SEOUL, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- South Korea's Samsung Bioepis and U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck have agreed to work together in the biosimilar sector.
Samsung Bioepis, a $300 million joint venture between Samsung Biologics and U.S. firm Biogen Idec., said under the deal with Merck, it will develop, test and manufacture biosimilar products, and that Merck will use its global distribution network to promote and sell biosimilars, the company said in a news release.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines biosimilars as products that are shown to be highly similar to or interchangeable with an FDA-licensed biological product. Biological products are therapies used to treat health conditions.
"Samsung Bioepis has been building the capabilities needed to develop high-quality biosimilars," Chief Executive Officer Christopher Hansung Ko said.
"With this development and commercialization agreement, Samsung takes a significant step toward becoming a major player in the biopharmaceutical industry."
Merck's announcement on its website quoted Rich Murray, its senior vice president for biologics and vaccines research, as saying the combination of his company's global commercial presence and Samsung Bioepis' biologic development and manufacturing capabilities "positions the two companies well to increase access to biosimilars to improve human health."
Merck said Samsung Bioepis will receive an upfront payment, product supply income and will be eligible for additional payments associated with pre-specified clinical and regulatory milestones.