DARMSTADT, Germany, March 9 Germany's Merck KGaA
on Thursday said it was seeking a buyer for its
biosimilars unit, confirming a Reuters report in October.
The chief executive of the maker of drugs, lab supplies and
high-tech chemicals, Stefan Oschmann, said negotiations were far
advanced but complex, speaking at a press conference after the
release of full-year results.
Merck has been working since 2012 with Dr Reddy's of India
in developing cheaper versions of blockbuster biotech drugs such
as AbbVie's Humira, Roche's Rituxan and Amgen's
Neulasta but has not yet brought products to market.
The lineup of prospective suppliers of these compounds -
called biosimilars because they are equivalent to the original
drug in efficacy and safety but not exact replicas - is expected
to see a shakeout amid harsh competition.
When asked about the future of Merck's Consumer Health
division, Oschmann said it was developing well, but added that
every one of the group's units would have to prove itself and
would be under review on an ongoing basis.
The business with 860 million euros ($908 million) in 2016
sales is seen by many industry experts as lacking critical mass
to compete with much larger rivals, which are seeking to further
consolidate the non-prescription treatments industry.
($1 = 0.9471 euros)
(Reporting by Patricia Weiss; Writing Ludwig Burger; Editing by
Harro ten Wolde)