Biocon launches drug for breast cancer with aggressive pricing

Written by fe Bureau | Bangalore | Updated: Jan 19 2014, 08:05am hrs
Biocon, Indias largest biotechnology company, on Saturday launched its drug for breast cancer, CANMab, targeting the R130-crore Indian market.

The drug is the world's first biosimilar of Swiss drugmaker Roches Herceptin.

Biocon said that CANMab, to be sold in vials, will be available in the Indian market in February while phase-3 trials for overseas markets like Europe and the US are in progress. The Bangalore-headquartered company has developed the drug jointly with American pharma company Mylan under a global partnership.

Biocon has priced the drug nearly 25% lower than Herceptin apart from introducing smaller vials aimed at making treatment more affordable.

While Herceptin is priced at Rs 75,000 per 440-mg vial, CANMab will be sold for R57,500 per 440-mg vial. The smaller 150-mg vial will be available for R19,500. With this pricing, the company expects to win patients who couldnt previously afford treatment.

Global sales for Herceptin were around $6.4 billion in 2012 while its India sales were estimated at $21 million. The market for breast cancer drugs in India is expected to double in a couple of years.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among Indian women, with an estimated 1.5 lakh new patients diagnosed every year in India. Of these, nearly 25% cases are HER2-positive.

Biocon said that CANMAb is a targeted therapy for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer and acts by interfering with HER2 protein production and stopping the growth of cancer cells. The drug is to be administered intravenously, once every 3 weeks or on a weekly basis, depending on the patients condition, it said.

Breast cancer survival rate has improved to 90% after the introduction of biologics, said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson and managing director, Biocon.

Biocon intends to make a significant difference in the treatment paradigm for HER2-positive breast cancer in India by enhancing access to more affordable treatment with CANMAb, which offers the same level of safety and efficacy as the reference product.

She added that the launch in India was a key milestone for the company's biosimilars programme. The drug will be manufactured at Biocon's Bangalore facility.