February 4, 2023
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Amgen teams up for Chinese joint venture


Thousand Oaks-based biotech giant Amgen has teamed up with a Chinese company for a joint venture to sell its colorectal cancer drug Vectibix there.

Zhejiang Beta Pharma will be 51 percent owner of the the new firm, which will be known as Amgen-Beta Pharmaceuticals. The deal is still subject to approval from Chinese authorities.

Amgen’s moves toward China signal a growing strategy of tapping and developing international markets as some of its core patents expire in the United States.

Last year, Amgen made a major move on the distribution side, possibly signaling a willingness to push generic biotech drugs into international markets. The company agreed to purchase Mustafa Nevzat Pharmaceuticals, a major supplier of pharmaceuticals and injectable medicines in Turkey, in a deal that values the Turkish firm at $700 million.

Amgen said that its focus on Turkey and the surrounding region is part of a broad international expansion strategy for the company. Amgen established an affiliate in Turkey in 2010 and currently markets two products there.

But China is a much larger prize, one that Amgen needs to cash in as some of its best-selling drug patents expire in the U.S. and Europe in the next few years. Vectibix, in particular, is an attractive target because its sales are increasing and its primary competitors are not yet sold in China.

“This joint venture brings us one step closer to providing Chinese patients with Amgen’s medicines and supports our strategy of expanding in key, fast-growing markets,” Anthony C. Hooper, an executive vice president at Amgen, said in a statement.

In January, Amgen said it would build a manufacturing facility in Singapore. The company said it anticipates investing $200 million to build an innovative new facility, which will initially focus on expanding Amgen’s manufacturing capability for monoclonal antibodies.

The facility will be capable of manufacturing both clinical and commercial products, the company said.