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Samsung, Biogen Idec Agree to Set Up $300 Million Venture

Samsung, Biogen Idec Agree to Set Up $300 Million Venture

Samsung Biologics Co. agreed to set up a $300 million venture with Biogen Idec Inc. to develop and sell biomedical products as South Korea’s largest business group seeks to boost its health-care operations.

Samsung Biologics, a drug manufacturer set up in April by Samsung Group companies and Quintiles Transnational Corp., will own 85 percent of the venture, to be based in South Korea, according to a joint statement distributed by Samsung Group. The new company will develop, make and sell biosimilars, or copies of biopharmaceuticals, which won’t include versions of Biogen’s proprietary products, according to the statement.

The agreement lets Samsung Group team up with the world’s largest maker of medicines for multiple sclerosis to make biologic drugs, one of five new businesses Samsung Chairman Lee Kun Hee has singled out as sources of future growth. Samsung Group plans to spend 2.1 trillion won ($1.9 billion) in an effort to generate more than 1.8 trillion won a year from biopharmaceuticals by 2020.

“We are taking a significant step toward becoming a major player in the biopharmaceutical industry and investing in an important growth engine for our company,” Kim Tae Han, chief executive officer of Samsung Biologics, said in today’s statement.

Quintiles has no plan to independently invest more money in the venture, said Jay Johnson, a spokesman for the Durham, North Carolina-based company.

Samsung Group plans to begin making biosimilars in 2016, starting with Biogen and Roche Holding AG’s Rituxan, used to treat leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, Kim said in February. Until then, Samsung Biologics plans to contract-manufacture medicines.

Patent Protection

Rituxan has patent protection in the U.S. until 2018 and in the rest of the world through 2013, Nina Schwab, a Roche spokeswoman, said in May last year. It generated sales of $6.11 billion last year, making it the world’s ninth best-selling medicine, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Samsung Group ultimately aims to develop its own biopharmaceuticals after gaining experience in making them through partnerships with other companies, Kim said in February.

(Updates with size of Samsung’s stake in second paragraph.)