Merck & Co has linked up with the joint venture set up between South Korean electronics giant Samsung and Biogen Idec to develop "multiple pre-specified and undisclosed biosimilar candidates".

Under the terms of the agreement, Samsung Bioepis will be responsible for development, clinical trials, registration and manufacturing, while Merck will be responsible for commercialisation. The JV, which is 85% owned by the Samsung Biologics unit (Biogen has a 15% holding) will receive an upfront payment from Merck and product supply income and will be eligible for additional payments associated with clinical and regulatory milestones. Further financial terms were not disclosed.

Samsung Bioepis chief executive Christopher Hansung Ko said the venture "has been building the capabilities needed to develop high-quality biosimilars” and with the agreement, "Samsung takes a significant step toward becoming a major player in the biopharmaceutical industry." Rich Murray, head of biologics and vaccines research at Merck Research Laboratories, said his firm's global commercial presence and Samsung Bioepis’ biologic development and manufacturing capabilities "positions the two companies well to increase access to biosimilars".

He added that “we look forward to this collaboration and its potential to complement our expanding internal biologics portfolio".