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Eli Lilly chairman visits Samsung drug companies

The chairman of American pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. visited the headquarters of Samsung BioLogics and Samsung Bioepis on Wednesday, fueling speculations on whether Eli Lilly and Samsung are mulling a potential partnership.

Industry watchers speculate that due to the timing of the visit, Eli Lilly may be considering partnering with the two Samsung biologic companies. Eli Lilly is currently preparing to launch Basaglar, a biosimilar replication of Sanofi’s blockbuster diabetes drug Lantus, after receiving approval for its commercialization late last year.

Biosimilars are cheaper, near-replicas of brand-name biologics that no longer hold patent protections.
Chairman John C. Lechleiter (Bloomberg)
Chairman John C. Lechleiter (Bloomberg)

However, spokespersons from both Samsung companies told The Korea Herald that chairman John C. Lechleiter had simply been making courtesy stops at the companies on his visit to Korea as part of a tour in Asia. They denied that there were any formal meetings or talks about potential contracts.

“Working together in the future is always a possibility, but there were no discussions of that sort on this visit,” said a spokesman from Samsung Bioepis.

Once Basaglar goes on the market, Eli Lilly may face potential rivalry against Samsung Bioepis, which has invested in Merck’s Lantus biosimilar product SB9 that is currently undergoing phase III clinical trials. Samsung BioLogics is a contract drug manufacturer, producing drugs on order from developers.

By Won Ho-jung
(hjwon@heraldcorp.com)
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