In a surprise move, US drug giant Pfizer Inc, today called off an insulin distribution agreement with Biocon to sell the Bangalore-based company's biosimilar versions of the drug in key global markets including the US.
The development comes even as global pharmaceutical giants are making a bee-line to India to tie-up with local drug makers to sell generic versions of patent-losing drugs globally in order to shore up their revenues as nearly $150 billion worth of drugs are expected to lose their patents by 2015.
It also comes at a time when Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, is in the middle of a major restructuring following its $68-billion merger with Wyeth in 2009 and is focused on its core pharmaceuticals business.
Both companies said in a joint statement that the reason for terminating the agreement was due to "the individual priorities for their respective biosimilars businesses, it is in their best interest to move forward independently."
In October 2010, Pfizer entered into a deal with Biocon to sell the Indian drug maker's biosimilar versions of diabetes treatment insulin. Under the deal, Biocon was paid $200 million up front and was also be eligible to receive additional development and regulatory milestone payments of up to $150 million in addition to payments related to sales of these medicines (See: Pfizer, Biocon enter into deal for biosimilar insulin)
Undert the agreement, Biocon would be responsible for developing and manufacturing the treatments. Its responsibility was also to secure regulatory approvals, and Pfizer was to have got exclusive rights to commercialise Biocon's drugs - recombinant human insulin, Glargine, Aspart and Lispro – globally, excepting in countries like Germany, India and Malaysia, where Biocon was to share co-exclusive rights with Pfizer.