Generics major Actavis says it plans to enter into the field of biosimilars by buying 51% of Polish firm Bioton's shares in BioPartners Holdings of Switzerland.

No financial terms have been disclosed as yet because the Icelandic group is to perform due diligence. The final price will also depend upon the costs of developing and registering BioPartners’ product portfolio, in particular a sustained-release formulation of recombinant human growth hormone which will cut the number of self-administered injections from once-a-day to once-a-week.

As part of the agreement, Actavis will help distribute Bioton's recombinant human insulin produced by Bioton and co-develop the latter's third generation hepatitis B vaccine. There will also be collaborations in other areas, "in particular those related to biotechnological drugs".

Actavis chief exective Claudio Albrecht noted that by entering into biosimilars "generic companies gain access to a portfolio that requires a new approach to development and marketing". As such, firms are investing significantly more in research and "only the large generic players such as Teva, Sandoz, Mylan and Actavis have the capability to do this, either by themselves or in partnerships with originators", he added.

Mr Albrecht went on to say that "we want to be selective with our biologic target portfolio", claiming that endocrinology "is one of the most interesting growth areas in the pharmaceutical industry". The company offers a broad selection of oral diabetics, he noted, so the insulin part of the pact "is thus rational for Actavis", while biosimilars could "also be an ideal addition to our oncology franchise.”

Actavis noted that BioPartners’ biosimilar rhGH Valtropin was one of the first to receive marketing authorisation in Europe.