Momenta, Baxter Team Up on Biosimilars

12/23/11Follow @xconomy

Illinois-based Baxter International (NYSE: BAX) is tapping into Cambridge, MA-based Momenta Pharmaceuticals’ abilities as a generic drugmaker in a new collaboration deal focused on developing so-called biosimilars, or knockoffs of biologic drugs.

Momenta (NASDAQ: MNTA) will receive $33 million upfront in the deal, according to an announcement yesterday, and could receive another $419 million in potential milestones and option fees. The companies will develop up to six biosimilar compounds under the agreement.

Last year Momenta nabbed FDA approval for a generic version of Sanofi’s anti-clotting drug enoxaparin (Lovenox). That product is being marketed by Sandoz. And the FDA is currently reviewing Momenta’s generic form of  glatiramer, a multiple sclerosis drug marketed today by Teva Pharmaceuticals under the brand name Copaxone.

The Momenta-Baxter deal is the latest we’ve reported in a string of activity around biosimilars. Just this week, Thousand Oaks, CA-based Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), which has R&D operations in Cambridge, announced a $400 million partnership with New Jersey’s Watson Pharmaceuticals to develop biosimilar cancer drugs. Earlier this month, Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) and Korean conglomerate Samsung formed a $300 million joint venture focused on biosimilars. And Merck (NYSE: MRK) has been fine-tuning its own biosimilars strategy in preparation for guidelines the FDA is expected to release on how to develop the generic biotech drugs.

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