Coherus sells Lucentis biosim to Sandoz for $170M to focus on oncology

Lucentis biosimilar Cimerli is the best-selling product for Coherus BioSciences, accounting for 54% of its revenue in the third quarter of last year.

But the Redwood City, California, drugmaker has sold it off to Sandoz for $170 million to focus its efforts on oncology, Coherus announced on Monday. The deal will include an additional $20 million of estimated inventory, which Coherus will turn over to Sandoz.

On a conference call, Coherus CEO Denny Lanfear said that the move will reduce the company’s debt and interest payments and extend its cash runway.

“Importantly, it focuses our commercial and marketing efforts, singularly in oncology, where we project continued growth,” Lanfear said.

Coherus will transfer Cimerli’s biologics license application and supporting commercial infrastructure, which includes its ophthalmology sales and reimbursement teams.

“The addition of Cimerli reinforces our commitment to biosimilars and represents a huge step towards our goal of pioneering patient access to more affordable and much-needed medicines in the U.S.,” Keren Haruvi, Sandoz’s president of its business in North America, said in a release.

Cimerli was approved by the FDA in August of 2022 as the lone interchangeable biosimilar to Roche’s Lucentis and Coherus’ launch has been highly successful. Its third-quarter sales of $40 million was double that of the previous quarter and exceeded the company’s estimate by 25%.

Coherus reported revenue of $75 million for the quarter, with a net loss of $40 million, down from $87 million in the third quarter of 2022. Coherus has yet to report full-year 2024 results.

“One of the more important things we wanted to achieve this year is bringing our balance sheet in alignment with our revenue structure,” said Lanfear, who added that the transaction would reduce term-loan exposure by 70% and annual interest rate payments by $25 million.  

Two weeks ago, in another cost-cutting move, Coherus discarded its TIGIT asset CHS-006, which it had acquired less than two years ago for $35 million by way of a partnership with Junshi Biosciences.

Coherus also partners with Junshi on anti-PD1 antibody Loqtorzi, which was approved last year, and the company recently launched as a treatment for recurrent or metastatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Lanfear called Loqtorzi a “$200 million market opportunity,” referring to its annual sales potential.

The top-selling product in Coherus’ oncology portfolio is Udenyca, which generated $33 million in sales in the third quarter of last year. The Neulasta biosimilar has been on the market for five years but Coherus anticipates sales to increase with an FDA approval a month ago for an on-body injector and payer coverage which has “nearly doubled since 2023,” Lanfear said.