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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Pfizer to cease biosimilar output in China

Health Industry Hub | March 19, 2021 |

Pharma News: Pfizer will halt the production of biosimilar products in China and sell a unit in the eastern city of Hangzhou to WuXi Biologics.

The pharmaceutical industry increasingly relies on costly biologic drugs, made from living organisms that are tougher and more expensive to make than conventional medicines with chemical ingredients.

Pfizer established the facility through a $350 million investment in 2016 in China. The site was originally set to make three biosimilars for the China market – copies of Roche cancer meds Avastin and Herceptin, plus a biosimilar of AbbVie’s immunology med Humira.

However the Chinese biosimilar market is growing increasingly crowded after Chinese authorities in early 2019 approved the country’s first biosimilar, a copy of Roche’s Rituxan made by Fosun Pharma’s Henlius Biotech.

As of February 2021, several Avastin, Humira and Herceptin biosimilar projects have filed for Chinese approvals or in local phase 3 trials.

Neither Pfizer nor WuXi disclosed the deal value, or the products to be made after the transaction closes, which is expected in the first half of this year.

WuXi said the deal would allow it to address surging manufacturing demand for drug substances and drug products.

The facilities are equipped with bioreactors and capable of filing vials and syringes, the Chinese firm said in a statement.

WuXi also makes vaccine substances for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca/University of Oxford to supply Brazil.

“After the acquisition, the facility will focus on providing premier drug substance and drug product manufacturing services based on clients’ demand for biologics including monoclonal antibodies,” a WuXi Biologics representative said.

The company declined to comment on whether the plant would turn out substances for COVID-19 vaccine.


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