By Shin Chan-ok and Kim Hyo-jin
Samsung Bioepis, the biopharmaceutical arm of South Korea’s Samsung Group, inked a $117.5 million deal with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to supply its main biosimilar product over the next five years.
According to local bio industry sources on Sunday, Samsung Bioepis’ partner Merck & Co., known as Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) outside of the U.S. and Canada, signed an exclusive agreement to supply the rheumatoid arthritis drug Renflexis to the U.S. veteran department, which provides patient care and federal benefits to military veterans.
Samsung Bioepis produces biosimilars, cheaper versions of biotechnology drugs whose patents have expired.
Renflexis is a biosimilar to Janssen’s Remicade, a prescription medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and plaque psoriasis. Renflexis, an infliximab biosimilar sold in Europe as Flixabi, received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April 2017 and was rolled out by Merck three months later.
Samsung Bioepis said it plans to tap into the veteran department’s vast hospital network to help bolster Renflexis’ presence in the U.S. market.