Samsung Bioepis switches gears, moves from knockoffs to new drugs with fast-changing Takeda

Samsung Bioepis knows how to make a great copy of a biologic. Now the company wants to start creating them from scratch.

The biosimilars maker, allied with Biogen on developing generic versions of branded biologics, today unveiled a new alliance with Japan’s aggressive Takeda on co-developing a pipeline of new drugs.

First up is a Takeda drug, TAK-671, for acute pancreatitis.

Christopher Hansung Ko, the CEO of Samsung Bioepis, put it this way:

Five years ago, we entered the biopharmaceutical industry with a strong determination to transform the way therapies are brought to patients by replacing legacy processes with new and innovative ones. Together with Takeda, we look forward to realizing this vision by accelerating the development of effective therapies for patients who are currently without a viable treatment option.


Christopher Hansung Ko

Of course there’s nothing truly innovative in what Samsung has been doing, unless designing a complex biologic as a precise knockoff of an existing therapy — like J&J’s Remicade — and kicking up an industrialization effort to mass produce these cheaper copies, requires innovation. That could trigger a few debates in biotech circles.

Takeda has been ripping up its old global R&D structure over the past year under CEO Christophe Weber and R&D chief Andy Plump, concentrating its forces in Cambridge, MA and Japan as it out-licenses, in-licenses and works up new pacts with developers of every stripe worldwide. The partners didn’t discuss cash terms today.

Samsung Bioepis has the cash to come in and work on novel drugs with Takeda, which has been wide open to devising new alliances that will share the risk in order to broaden its overall drug development work. Like a lot of drug companies, Takeda has been working on finding new ways to develop more drugs than it can afford to develop alone. And it’s been revamping the pipeline, leaving some drugs up for grabs. So it has out-licensed drugs to companies like Jeremy Levin’s Ovid and Vivek Ramaswamy’s Myovant.

“At Takeda, we think differently – and creatively – about what makes a partnership successful and look to build on our strengths by collaborating with partners who have complementary expertise,” said Daniel Curran, who runs the external innovation group at Takeda.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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