Coherus Biosciences, a new company led by "early biotech pioneers who helped build America's biotherapeutics industry", has been launched and a partnership with Daiichi Sankyo to develop biosimilars of two blockbusters - Amgen's Enbrel and Roche's Rituxan has already been set up.

The founders of Coherus come from companies like Genentech, Roche, Merck & Co and Immunex and chief executive Denny Lanfear, a 13-year veteran of Amgen, claims that "we've reconstructed the entire business model of making biotherapeutics, reinventing everything from development to commercialisation". He says the model is "about collaboration and efficiency with production processes and clinical programmes that are readily portable across global markets".

Coherus adds that its partners include "a cutting-edge platform company providing key technologies", a global clinical research organisation and a leading contract manufacturing organisation. The firm, which is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area and was founded in 2010, begins with a pipeline of five oncology and inflammatory disease therapeutics.

First to sign up is Daiichi Sankyo in a pact which will see the firms work together to advance biosimilar forms of the arthritis and psoriasis therapy Enbrel (etanercept) and the rheumatoid arthritis and cancer drug Rituxan (rituximab) developed by Coherus. Upon marketing approval, Daiichi Sankyo will commercialise these products in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan and specific financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Joji Nakayama, Daiichi Sankyo's chief executive, said Coherus has established "an outstanding business model, a very experienced biologic development team and outstanding capabilities". He added that “by creating an opportunity for an early entry into the biosimilars market, this agreement will strengthen our internal platform for manufacturing and developing biopharmaceuticals".

Coherus said that the Daiichi Sankyo deal is "the first of several strategic partnerships that will be announced in the coming weeks".