Celltrion enters Chinese market via joint venture

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Celltrion enters Chinese market via joint venture

The Celltrion Group has established a joint venture in Shanghai with Nan Fung Group, a Hong Kong property developer.

With the formation of the enterprise, Celltrion is setting foot in the China pharmaceutical market, the second-largest in the world.

Vcell Healthcare, the joint venture, will be funded by Celltrion, Celltrion Healthcare, Celltrion Hong Kong and Nan Fung.

Seo Jung-Jin, chairman of the Celltrion Group, owns 35.8 percent of Celltrion Healthcare and 22.2 percent of Celltrion.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vcell will hold exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize in China three biosimilars: Remsima, Truxima and Herzuma.

“Vcell Healthcare will push efforts to speed up the Chinese release of Celltrion biosimilars according to the National Medical Products Administration’s medicine authorization process,” Celltrion Group said in a statement.

Celltrion and Nan Fung will look into establishing production facilities in China, with “state-of-the-art equipment.”

Biosimilars, according to the FDA, are biological products that are approved based on proof that they are highly similar to other FDA-approved products. The drugs have no meaningful clinical differences in terms of safety or effectiveness from the reference product, but they cost less.

Celltrion’s Remsima is the biosimilar of Remicade, which treats rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Herzuma is a biosimilar of Herceptin, which treats breast cancer. Truxima is a copy of Rituximab, a medication for multiple diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

All three are currently selling in the United States, Europe and Korea, after their efficacy and similarity were approved. In China, the products have to be approved again, and this includes clinical trials.

Despite the additional costs and efforts required for the process, China is still an attractive market.

According to estimates from the Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization, China’s pharmaceutical market is expected to reach 304 trillion won in 2020, from 207 trillion won in 2015. The bio pharmaceutical sector is expected to grow faster.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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