SEOUL, Apr. 27 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s pharmaceutical giant Celltrion has become a strong competitor to European and U.S. drugs with its biosimilars, indicated by changes in sales, industry officials said Friday.
Multinational drugmaker Roche logged a 44 percent fall in sales of Mabthera, an antibody used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma and some types of leukemia, in Europe in the first quarter this year compared with the same quarter last year. The company attributed the fall to the market entry by a biosimilar, apparently referring to Celltrion’s Truxima.
Truxima is the first biosimilar to Mabthera that has been approved by European authorities. It went on shelves in April last year.
According to Celltrion Healthcare, which handles the company’s overseas business, Truxima accounted for 43 percent of the drug’s market in Britain and 58 percent in the Netherlands in the fourth quarter last year.
Sandoz, another multinational pharmaceutical firm, marketed its biosimilar in Europe last year but hasn’t been able to overtake Truxima, industry officials said.
“(Celltrion’s) brand power has become strong from the European entry of the earlier biosimilar Remsima, and the market size (of Truxima) is growing fast through abundant clinical testing,” an official at Celltrion Healthcare said.
In the U.S., Remsima is close on the heels of the original drug Remicade. According to Johnson & Johnson, this year’s first quarter sales of Remicade fell 22.5 percent from the same quarter last year.
Remsima had 4.9 percent of the respective market in the third quarter last year and raised it to 5.6 percent in the following quarter, according to industry officials.
Exact sales figures for Truxima and Remsima have not yet been released.