The Korea Herald


Celltrion’s 2020 Q3 performance best ever

By Lim Jeong-yeo

Published : Nov. 9, 2020 - 18:12

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Celltrion set a quarterly earnings record in the third quarter of 2020, the company’s regulatory filing showed Monday.

The No. 1 South Korean biosimilars maker posted a revenue of 548.8 billion won ($492.6 million) and an operating profit of 245.3 billion won, up 89.9 percent and 137.8 percent, respectively.

The pharma credited its buoyant performance to increasingly reliable distribution of its biosimilar products, which are expanding their presence in global markets.

Celltrion’s intravenous Remsima (infliximab) continues to notch stable sales, and a newly launched, easier-to-administer subcutaneous Remsima is gearing up for the wider market for both rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease indications.

Celltrion said Teva Pharmaceuticals’ migraine treatment Ajovy’s global sales growth had led to increased contract manufacturing orders.

Celltrion’s three mainstay biosimilar products -- Remsima, Truxima and Herzuma -- are continuing their growth streak in Europe and the US, the biggest markets for biopharmaceuticals in the world.

According to market researcher IQVIA and Celltrion Group’s distribution arm, Celltrion Healthcare, Remsima accounted for 55 percent of the infliximab market in Europe in the second quarter of 2020. Truxima held 37 percent of the rituximab market and Herzuma 16 percent of the trastuzumab market there, in the same period.

According to medical information provider Symphony Health, in the US, Remsima hit 11.3 percent and Truxima 20.4 percent of the market pie in the third quarter this year.

Remsima is sold by Pfizer and Truxima by Teva in the US. Herzuma launched in March through Teva, and is working to claim its piece of the pie.

The motors for Celltrion’s future growth are COVID-19 antibody treatment pipeline CT-P59 and a test kit it has recently begun exporting to the US.

CT-P59 is currently undergoing clinical phase 2 and 3 trials in Korea and in Europe, with the goal of obtaining meaningful midterm data by year-end.

As for the test kits, Celltrion has collaborated with local health care firms BBB and Humasis. Since acquiring emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration, Celltrion has signed a deal worth 210 billion won with a US wholesaler.

Celltrion’s Chairperson Seo Jung-jin has set the goal of delivering more than one new biosimilar every year until 2030.

Other than Remsima SC, which is undergoing a final-stage clinical trial in the US, Celltrion also has autoimmune disease treatment Humira’s biosimilar CT-P17, colon cancer treatment Avastin’s biosimilar CT-P16, allergic asthma and chronic spontaneous urticaria treatment Xolair’s biosimilar CT-P39, autoimmune disease treatment Stelara’s biosimilar CT-P43 and osteoporosis treatment Prolia’s biosimilar CT-P41 in ongoing global clinical trials.

The closest thing to a rival that Celltrion has in Korea is Samsung Bioepis, which is the biosimilar-making business unit of Korea’s biggest conglomerate, Samsung Group.

It is difficult to directly compare the two, however, as Samsung Bioepis is not a listed company and the details of its business performance are not open for public review.

Samsung Bioepis is a joint venture between Samsung Biologics and the US’ Biogen, which respectively hold stakes of 50.1 percent and 49.9 percent. Samsung Bioepis’ performance can usually be surmised from Samsung Biologics’ consolidated reports.

With Samsung Biologics also posting record earnings every quarter this year -- not to mention the unprecedented number of global contract manufacturing deals it clinched on the back of the COVID-19 emergency -- the industry guesses that Samsung Bioepis must not be doing so badly either.

Samsung Bioepis CEO Ko Han-sung, or Christopher Ko, has expressed confidence in the company’s progress in the biosimilars market. At the company’s first-ever press conference in November 2019, he confidently proclaimed 2019 to be the then-7-year-old company’s first profit-making year. Ko said he expected its yearly revenue to surpass 1 trillion won in 2019.

Samsung Bioepis has biosimilar products for etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab, trastuzumab and bevacizumab, which are more affordable replacements for blockbuster autoimmune disease treatments Remicade, Enbrel, Humira, Herceptin and Avastin, in that order.

By Lim Jeong-yeo(