Pfizer has pulled out of a deal to commercialise three insulin biosimilars produced by India-based Biocon in Europe and the US.
The 2010 deal, worth up to $350m, covered biosimilar versions of Sanofi’s Lantus, Novo Nordisk’s NovoLog and Lilly’s Lispro.
The decision caused the share value of leading insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk to rise to a record high.
The rights to the three biosimilars will revert to Biocon, which is left without a distributor in the European and US markets. The deal with Pfizer led Biocon to end its existing distribution partnerships in Europe in 2011.
Pfizer has already paid Biocon $200m up front for the rights to the insulin biosimilars, with up to $150m to follow.
In a joint statement, Pfizer and Biocon said they had decided that “due to the individual priorities for their respective biosimilars businesses, it is in their best interest to move forward independently”.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Managing Director of Biocon, said the company would continue to market its insulin products worldwide: “Biocon will continue to work with its existing partners in several markets and will pursue a commercial strategy on its own and through new alliances in other markets.”
Diem Nguyen, Pfizer’s General Manager of Biosimilars, said Pfizer would continue to develop and commercialise non-insulin biosimilars, including monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins.
News of the deal’s end caused shares in Novo Nordisk, the world’s leading insulin manufacturer, to rise by 1.1% to an all-time high level.
Nordea Markets analyst Michael Novod commented that the weakening of the biosimilar threat to its NovoLog insulin was “a clear positive for Novo”.
He added: “We believe this highlights how difficult and challenging it is – and will be – to bring competitive biosimilar insulins to the US and EU markets.”