Samsung Bioepis Co., a biopharmaceutical affiliate of Samsung, announced on August 21 it has entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., the largest pharmaceutical company in Asia, to jointly develop novel biologic drugs.
The latest agreement is to create a synergy between Samsung Bioepis’ biologics development platform and technologies and Takeda’s extensive knowledge and expertise in drug development. Under the agreement, the two companies will collaboratively work on the whole process of new material searching, clinical trial, licensing and commercialization.
In particular, the two companies will co-fund and collaboratively develop innovative therapies rather than transferring new candidate materials or technologies. Samsung Bioepis said, “We have decided to participate in the development of biologic medicines beyond biosimilars in order to provide effective biologic drugs.”
The deal marks a milestone for the biopharma development unit of Samsung Group, launched as part of the conglomerate’s future businesses initiated seven years ago by its currently bedridden Chairman Lee Kun-hee in May 2010. It was also the achievement in five years after Samsung Bioepis was founded in 2012 with an aim of biologics research and development and commercialization.
The two companies will immediately begin working on the program’s first therapeutic candidate, TAK-671, which is intended to treat severe acute pancreatitis, and expand to other novel biologic treatments in the future. TAK-671 is a candidate material developed by Takeda Pharmaceutical. Samsung Bioepis said the two companies thought that it is the right time to jointly carry out clinical trials with the new candidate material since the clinical trials haven’t started yet. In addition, there is a high demand for acute pancreatitis because there are no treatments for the disease yet and Takeda Pharmaceutical has expertise in gastrointestinal internal medicines.
Accordingly, Samsung Bioepis will take part in the preclinical studies on TAK-671 and jointly carry out the Phase I clinical trial with Takeda Pharmaceutical next year. In general, pharmaceutical companies search and develop a candidate material and conduct preclinical studies, including animal testing, and carry out Phase I to III clinical trials in order to develop novel drugs. Takeda Pharmaceutical, which is Asia’s biggest multinational pharmaceutical company founded in 1781, posted US$16.1 billion (18.38 trillion won) in sales last year.
Until now, some have pointed out that Samsung Bioepis tends to focus on current profits rather than the future by developing biosimilars.