Merck sees market for novel therapies, to focus on its oncology pipeline

MerckBSE 4.37 % is betting on India's growing pharmaceutical space and steady state spending on healthcare to expand its business, even as the German life sciences and technology company's seven-year-old joint venture with Dr Reddy's Laboratories to develop biosimilar drugs comes to an end. 

The 350-year-old company is known to be a global leader in the manufacturing of biosciences products. It is betting big on its oncology pipeline, in the field of immunotherapy that has come to define new-age cancer treatment. 

"We went into biosimilars during a period of time that was in 2011-12, when we were not sure how our research-based pipeline was developing. So I said before biosimilars was plan B for us," Stefan Oschmann, the chief executive of Merck KGaA, told ET in an interview. "Now, our R&D pipeline has developed so nicely and because we have to prioritise and we cannot afford to finance everything, we decided to sell the (biosimilar) business." 

But Oschmann said the business was progressing very well. "So, it has reached most of the milestones that we had defined," he added. 

Merck KGaA is different from American drug maker Merck & Co, which is known as MSD outside the US and Canada. In 2012, the company and Dr Reddy's announced that they would co-develop a portfolio of biosimilar compounds in oncology. 
The partnership also covered manufacturing and commercialisation of the compounds. 



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