Coherus offloads Lucentis biosimilar to Sandoz for $170M in pivot to oncology


Coherus offloads Lucentis biosimilar to Sandoz for $170M in pivot to oncology

Published: Jan 23, 2024

By Tristan Manalac


Coherus BioSciences on Monday announced that it will divest its FDA-approved ophthalmology asset Cimerli (ranibizumab-eqrn)—a biosimilar to Roche’s Lucentis (ranibizumab)—to Novartis’ generics spin-off Sandoz.

Under the terms of the transaction, Sandoz will make an upfront all-cash payment of $170 million plus an additional amount for Cimerli product inventory and potential working capital adjustments at the time of the deal’s closing. The companies expect to complete the transaction in the first half of 2024, subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals.

For Sandoz, Monday’s deal with Coherus represents its first major contract since spinning out of Novartis in October 2023. Since the separation, Sandoz has opened its new antibiotic production facility in Austria, along with a biosimilar development site in Germany. It has also launched its Humira biosimilar Hyrimoz in Europe.

Sandoz is buying Coherus’ complete Cimerli franchise, which is comprised of its biologics license application, inventory on hand and proprietary commercial software, as well as the biosimilar’s supporting commercial infrastructure including its ophthalmology sales and select field reimbursement teams.

Cimerli is an anti-VEGF antibody that won the FDA’s approval in August 2022 as an interchangeable biosimilar to Roche’s Lucentis. The copycat is also indicated for the same five conditions: wet age-related macular degeneration, macular edema following retinal vein occlusion, diabetic macular edema, diabetic retinopathy and myopic choroidal neovascularization.

“Since entering the ophthalmology market in 2022, we have gained strong market share and created significant value in a non-core therapeutic area by leveraging our buy-and-bill commercial expertise,” Coherus CEO Danny Lanfear said in a statement. “We believe it is prudent to now monetize these non-core assets to pay down debt, reduce interest costs, and take the opportunity to focus on our core therapeutic area—oncology.”

The divestiture will also help Coherus reduce its headcount and overhead costs, allowing the company to better sustain and grow its oncology franchise, according to Lanfear.

Coherus’ oncology portfolio is anchored by Udenyca (pegfilgrastim-cbqv), which was approved in November 2018 to reduce the incidence of infections in patients with non-myeloid cancers undergoing myelosuppressive treatment. Udenyca is a biosimilar to Amgen’s Neulasta (pegfilgrastim).

Beyond biosimilars, Coherus’ cancer franchise also includes the Junshi-partnered Loqtorzi (toripalimab), which cleared the FDA’s regulatory hurdle in October 2023, becoming the first approved treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Coherus is also advancing several other oncology assets, including the Phase II anti-IL-27 casdozokitug, being developed for hepatocellular carcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer.

Source: BioSpace