If all 11 planned rituximab biosimilars make it to the market, price will determine the winner. But Novartis AG's Sandoz Ltd. unit expects that fewer than half will get to the finish line, and that means price will be only part of the equation.
Rituximab's blockbuster sales and upcoming patent expirations have made it a popular target for biosimilars companies.
Rituxan/MabThera is a $6.5 billion drug for partners Biogen Idec Inc. and Roche's Genentech Inc. unit. The chimeric mAb against CD20 is approved in the U.S. and EU to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is also approved in the EU to treat diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL).
The patents expire between 2015 and 2018 in the U.S. and next year in the rest of the world.