Report: Sandoz has as many as 10 follow-on biologics in works

NEW YORK — Sandoz is developing as many as 10 new follow-on biologics, according to published reports.

Reuters, citing an interview with Sandoz head Jeff George in the German newspaper Handelsblatt, said the generics arm of Swiss drug maker Novartis had eight to 10 new biosimilar molecules in development.

Follow-on biologics, also known as biosimilars and sometimes as biogenerics, are copycat versions of biotech drugs. Unlike generic pharmaceutical drugs, which are identical to their branded counterparts, the specially grown cell lines and complex molecular structure of biologics makes it much more difficult to develop follow-on versions, and follow-on biologics may not be identical to the originals, even if they have the work the same way.

Sandoz is one of the leading developers of follow-on biologics for the European market, along with Israeli drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the world’s largest generic drug company, and U.S.-based Hospira.

The healthcare-reform law, signed into law by President Barack Obama last year, created a regulatory approval pathway for follow-on biologics in the United States, though Republicans in Congress and several state attorneys general have sought to overturn the law in the legislature and the court system.

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