CDMO Samsung Biologics Acquires Full Ownership of Bioepis, Improving Access to Affordable Drugs

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In the United States and other countries that may not have socialized health care, affordable medication and prescriptions can be difficult to obtain. Americans on average spend around $1,200 a year on prescription medication, and in the era of a global pandemic, pharmaceuticals have become even more necessary to survive. Some companies, and financial moguls including billionaire Mark Cuban, have invested in initiatives to make medication more equitably priced.

Contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) like Samsung Biologics see the potential to help patients afford the medications and therapies they need. Ten years ago, Samsung Biologics partnered with Biogen to create a joint endeavor called Samsung Bioepis, a venture that created biosimilar medication that was more affordable to meet the needs of those who couldn't pay for more expensive drugs.


Bioepis' Success in the Past

In 2012, Samsung Biologics forged an agreement with Biogen to form Samsung Bioepis. Samsung Bioepis successfully launched five different biosimilar drugs to be made available around the world. Three of those pharmaceuticals treat autoimmune conditions, and two treat oncological conditions. Furthermore, one product is about to be released, while four more are in the middle of Phase 3 clinical trials.

Samsung Biologics CEO John Rim said, "Samsung Biologics does not just develop and manufacture products, but produces lifesaving solutions. We are driven for life. With a steadfast vision and unrelenting drive to achieve a better life for all, we embrace responsibility, expertise, and pride in our work, and will continue on our noble mission to enable improved accessibility of biomedicines and consequently the quality of life for people around the globe.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, Bioepis produced versions of the drugs Humira and Enbrel. “Lawmakers and patient groups have looked for biosimilars to help lower costs for prescription drugs, like Humira and Enbrel, costing tens of thousands dollars a year,” the announcement stated.

Bioepis has done well financially: In the first nine months of 2021, the company reported $610.2 million in revenue. It's looking to release a biosimilar in the U.S. for the vision-loss drug Lucentis.

“We are constantly assessing various ways that we can expand and diversify our current business portfolio to better serve the market,” said Rim. Samsung Biologics expects the purchase of Bioepis to boost its earnings growth.


Potential for Growth and Expansion

As part of its long-term expansion strategy, Samsung Biologics has already increased its business portfolio and production capacity to meet growing industry demand. By the first half of 2022, the CDMO will be ready to provide pharmaceutical firms full-cycle mRNA vaccine production services from its plant in Songdo, South Korea, including labeling and packaging, as well as cold chain storage.

Meanwhile, Samsung Biologics will continue to provide high-quality biomanufacturing services through existing firewalls between Samsung Bioepis and Samsung Biologics. The CDMO will grow its biopharmaceutical business through three core drivers: capacity expansion, the establishment of growth opportunities in new business areas such as mRNA and cell and gene therapies, and international expansion.

The "Super Plant," the company's fourth facility, is projected to be completed in 2023. Samsung Biologics' manufacturing capacity will grow by 67% when this is completed. With 2.56 million square feet of floor area, it will increase the company's entire capacity to over 600K liters.

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