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Biocad and Sothema Labs have partnered to release cancer-treating biosimilars into the North African market.
On Nov. 29, 2017, Biocad, a Russian biotechnology company, and Sothema Labs, a Moroccan pharmaceutical company, announced the release of medicines derived using technology provided by the Russian manufacturer into the North African market. Biosimilars of rituximab and bevacizumab that were approved in the first half of October 2017 to treat multiple types of cancer will be manufactured in Morocco.
Rituximab is currently marketed under the brand names Rituxan and MabThera by Genetech, a Roche company, and is Roche’s top-selling drug, achieving 2016 sales of CHF 7.3 billion (US$7.4 billion). Bevacizumab, currently branded by Genetech as Avastin, is another blockbuster drug for Roche, with sales of CHF 6.8 billion (US$6.9 billion) in 2016. In addition to Morocco, thÐµ biosimilars to these innovator biologics are planned to be marketed in other African countries, such as Senegal, Gabon, and Côte d’Ivoire.
“The efforts of our company combined with the eager enthusiasm of our Moroccan colleagues in transferring the production of biosimilars to North Africa has brought remarkable results,” said Dmitry Morozov, CEO of Biocad, in a company press release. “In the coming days, the drug products will go on sale. In my opinion, this is eloquent evidence that Russian companies can compete with leaders of the international market. Moreover, this is the first successful case of transferring technologies of the monoclonal antibody drug products manufacturing to North Africa amid the refusal of western companies to implement such projects. Russia, represented by Biocad, helped its partner to launch a high-tech production.”
According to Morozov, once the manufacturing site reaches its full production capacity, the partners expect to capture more than 50% of the relevant cancer drugs market. The four years between the start of the collaboration with Sothema Labs and this most recent announcement was necessary for adequate technology transfer and validation, the study of stability and quality of the produced drugs, and their authorization, according to Biocad. Additionally, an agreement was reached to localize the manufacturing of finished dosage forms for Biocad's products in Algeria using the production capacities of its partner.