Novartis' generic-drugs unit Sandoz said on Monday it plans to launch a generic version of Johnson & Johnson's anti-inflammatory drug Stelara under a collaboration deal with Samsung Bioepis.
For Sandoz, which is due to become an independent company early next month, the transaction means more investment in the growing market of biosimilars, which are lower-cost copies of complex biotech drugs that have lost patent protection.
Samsung Bioepis' clinical development programme for the Stelara biosimilar is well-advanced and Sandoz secured the rights to commercialize the product in the United States, Canada and most of Europe, it said, adding that financial terms were confidential.
The deal "will further strengthen our immunology patient offering and means we now have five potential high-value upcoming biosimilar launches over the next few years," said Sandoz CEO Richard Saynor.
Stelara is used to treat autoimmune disorders including Crohn's disease, plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and ulcerative colitis.
Sandoz is relying on biosimilars to boost profitability. The Swiss company has said that its adjusted core profit margin would likely be 18-19% this year, down from 21.3% in 2022, weighed down by higher marketing expenses and cost inflation, but the margin would likely reach 24% to 26% by 2028.
Novartis shareholders are due to vote on the Sandoz spin-off at an extraordinary general meeting on Sept. 15, with the first day of trading scheduled for Oct 4.