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Samsung inks new biopharmaceutical tie-up

Group’s Biologics unit signs agreement with Biogen Idec to develop biosimilars


Samsung Group announced Tuesday that its affiliate Samsung Biologics signed an agreement with U.S.-based Biogen Idec to set up a biosimilar joint venture by March.

With plans to build the biosimilar research and development center in Songdo, Incheon, next year, the two firms have agreed to invest $300 million for the joint venture. The joint venture has already hired 100 employees who will work at the new R&D center and expects to expand that figure to 200-300 people, said Samsung officials.

Biosimilars are officially approved copycat medicines developed after patents for the original biopharmaceuticals expire.

Samsung Biologics will take an 85 percent share in the joint venture, while Biogen Idec will take the remaining 15 percent, according to Samsung officials.

The signing of the agreement comes after the group declared earlier this year that it will expand into the healthcare business, designating it a new growth engine for the country’s largest conglomerate.
Samsung Biologics chief executive Kim Tae-han (left) and Biogen Idec CEO George Scangos pose for a photo after signing an agreement to set up a joint venture for biosimilars in southern Seoul on Tuesday. (Samsung Biologics)
Samsung Biologics chief executive Kim Tae-han (left) and Biogen Idec CEO George Scangos pose for a photo after signing an agreement to set up a joint venture for biosimilars in southern Seoul on Tuesday. (Samsung Biologics)

The group said it now has all necessary capabilities ― such as product development, clinical testing, manufacturing and marketing ― to transform into a global pharmaceutical company that has the possibility of becoming the group’s future cash cow.

“Through the strategic partnership of the two companies, we have minimized the technical and financial risks resulting from big-scale projects and we also are now able to strengthen our new business portfolio,” said a Samsung official.

Both companies will take responsibility for the manufacturing of the biopharmaceuticals and use all cell strains developed by each firm to conduct multinational clinical tests in order to sell them in global markets.

Samsung Biologics is Samsung’s biopharmaceutical manufacturing unit formed earlier in April by merging it with U.S.-based Quintiles as the conglomerate aimed to diversify its business portfolio, looking for new cash sources.

Biogen Idec, on the other hand, is a biopharmaceutical firm established in 1978 which concentrates on offering medical treatments for leukemia and blood-related diseases.

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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