Pfizer and India's Biocon have called off their collaboration signed 18 months ago to develop the latter's biosimilar versions of insulin.

In October 2010, Pfizer paid an upfront fee of $200 million to Biocon, which was also eligible to receive milestones of up to $150 million, for licences to the Bangalore-based firm's biosimilars of Sanofi's Lantus (insulin glargine), Novo Nordisk's NovoRapid (insulin aspart), and Eli Lilly's Humalog (insulin lispro), among others. However, the firms now say that "due to the individual priorities for their respective biosimilars businesses, it is in their best interest to move forward independently".

Diem Nguyen, general manager for biosimilars at Pfizer, said that the company "continues to be dedicated to developing a broad portfolio of biosimilars medicines, including monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins products, both internally and through collaborations," She added that Pfizer "will continue to be active in our own R&D development efforts for diabetes, which represents a huge unmet medical need".

CEO attacks Europe govts, likely to spin off animal health

Meantime, in an interview with Reuters, Pfizer chief executive Ian Read Europe has attacked European governments for innovation by cutting prices and raising barriers to getting approval for new medicines.

He singled out Germany for particular criticism, pointing to its recent decisions to extend drug price freezes from 2010, initially designed as an emergency measure, and to use countries including Poland and Greece as a benchmark for how much it will pay for drugs. "What is the fundamental message there? They are saying...investment in innovation is at a level that Greek prices can support," Mr Read told the news agency.

He went on to tell the agency that Pfizer is more likely to spin off its animal health unit than sell it, though its nutrition business is likely to be sold outright. Mr Read also seems disinclined to enter into any major mergers and acquisitions activities but said Pfizer will continue to look for bolt-on deals.