Samsung Bioepis has signed a licensing deal with healthcare-focused private equity firm C-Bridge Capital to accelerate expansion in mainland China.

The agreement involves the biopharmaceutical company’s SB11, SB12 and SB3 biosimilar candidates, which reference Lucentis (ranibizumab), Soliris (eculizumab) and Herceptin (trastuzumab) respectively.

Lucentis and Herceptin are Genentech products, while Soliris is part of the Alexion Pharmaceuticals portfolio.

As part of the alliance, C-Bridge will establish a biopharmaceutical firm called AffaMed Therapeutics.

The new firm will partner with Samsung Bioepis on further advancing the biosimilar candidates, including their clinical development, regulatory registration and commercialisation in China.

In turn, Samsung Bioepis will get an upfront payment and royalties on sales. Precise financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

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“Currently, Samsung Bioepis offers four biosimilars Benepali (etanercept), Flixabi (infliximab), Imraldi (adalimumab) and Ontruzant (trastuzumab) across Europe.”

Samsung Bioepis president and CEO Christopher Hansung Ko said: “We want to play an important role in widening access to high-quality healthcare for patients throughout China.

“C-Bridge is the right partner for this mission as evidenced in its exceptional track record of successfully turning portfolio companies like AffaMed Therapeutics into leading biopharmaceutical companies in China and beyond.”

Currently, Samsung Bioepis offers four biosimilars Benepali (etanercept), Flixabi (infliximab), Imraldi (adalimumab) and Ontruzant (trastuzumab) across Europe.

The company provides Renflexis (infliximab-abda) in the US, where it also secured approval for Ontruzant (trastuzumab-dttb).

In addition, a biologics license application for another biosimilar candidate SB5 (adalimumab) is currently being reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Established in 2012, Samsung Bioepis is a Korean joint venture between Samsung BioLogics and Biogen.

In June, Biogen increased its stake in the company from around 5.4% to 49.9% under a $700m deal with Samsung BioLogics.