Stada widens biotech drug offering with filgrastim licence


FRANKFURT, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Germany's Stada will sell a version of U.S. drugmaker Amgen's blockbuster cancer treatment filgrastim in Europe, keeping faithwith the difficult market for copies of medicines developedusing biotechnology.

The German generic drugmaker said on Monday it agreed withCanada's Apotex Inc., which developed a filgrastim version basedon Amgen's original, to market the drug in nearly all EuropeanUnion countries.

Out-of-patent filgrastim, a biologic drug branded asNeupogen by Amgen and as Grastofil by Apotex, is used to boostproduction of infection-fighting white blood cells in certaincancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

Stada, which declined to disclose financial terms, plans tostart sales next year, hoping to win a slice of the 1 billioneuro ($1.4 billion) European filgrastim market.

Generic versions of biologic drugs, made from geneticallymodified cell cultures, are known as biosimilars because theoriginal cannot be exactly replicated like standard chemicaldrugs.

Stada has been among the first European generics makers toinvest in biosimilars, winning European approval for a versionof aneamia treatment epo as early as 2007, but the business hasso far failed to make meaningful contributions to group sales.

Stada, which struck a biosimilars alliance with GedeonRichter over two cancer drugs in 2011, declined tobreak out its current biosimilar drug revenues.

Apotex's version of filgrastim earlier this year receivedregulatory approval from the European Commission.

U.S. drug regulators in August gave the nod to a TevaPharmaceutical Industries version offilgrastim.

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