Mylan has bought rights to develop Pfizer's generic versions of GlaxoSmithKline's asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder blockbuster Advair.
The deal will see Mylan use Pfizer's proprietary dry powder inhaler delivery platform to make copycat Advair (fluticasone and salmeterol). The combo, which is also known as Seretide, is GSK's biggest-seller and third-quarter sales reached £1.22 billion (-3%).
In addition, the US giant will grant Mylan rights to its dry-powder delivery platform to develop other brand and generic products, which could involve existing Pfizer compounds currently in various stages of development. The deal also allows Mylan to employ "select key members of the former Pfizer respiratory inhalation development team" based at Sandwich, UK, where the generics major will establish a division. Some employees also will be based in Cambridge.
Cashwise, Pfizer will pocket $17.5 million, plus milestones, while Mylan will pay for remaining development and capital expenditures. The latter's president, Heather Bresch, said that "inhaler-based products represent a significant opportunity for our generics business and expand our focus on difficult-to-produce, limited competition products. We are particularly excited about the global potential of a generic Advair".
The firms quoted IMS Health figures which state that the global market for asthma and COPD drugs is $34 million and growing at about 7% per year. More than half of the market is expected to lose patent protection by the end of 2016, including several blockbusters.
That includes Advair but at the moment GSK does not seem too concerned. Following the third quarter results, chief executive Andrew Witty said the firm does not expect to see any serious generic competition in Europe for the next few years, seeing as how Sandoz' copy seems to have been delayed.
Nycomed and Orion are also working on generic Advair but GSK has previously said that even though copycat versions containing the same active ingredients will be available, the inhaler device used for the drug means that competing products will not be fully substitutable, so regulators may be wary.
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