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Oncobiologics forms venture with Chinese company

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Cranbury biopharmaceutical company Oncobiologics Inc. has formed a venture with Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to manufacture and commercialize generic versions of biological drugs in China and globally.

The agreement marks an expansion into overseas markets for Oncobiolgics, which formed in 2011. Its partnership with Huahai contains two elements, according to a joint news release by the companies.

Huahai will commercialize four complex biological drugs developed by Oncobiologics for the Chinese market. The products will be manufactured in China at a Huahai facility there.

The agreement also establishes a co-development and commercialization partnership for launching such biosimilars in more than 30 countries, including the United States, Europe, Japan, Canada and Australia. The agreement will seek local partners in each of the 30 countries.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Oncobiologics CEO Pankaj Mohan said the agreement is a big boost for the company, which operates a 30,000 square-foot research and development facility on Clark Drive.

"This takes us from an investment-driven company to a revenue-driven company," Mohan said, adding that milestone payments and license payments will follow as a result of the agreement.

Oncobiologics, now profitable, projects reaching $40 million revenue by the end of the year, Mohan said. The company employs 40 now, with expectation to add another 20 or 30 jobs at its Cranbury plant this year.

The four biosimilars included in the agreement are generic versions of Humira, an arthritis drug, and cancer therapy drugs Rituxan, Avastin, and Herceptin. Mohan said the drugs are approaching patent expirations starting in 2016. The drugs now generate global revenue of more than $40 billion, with more than $20 billion in the countries covered by the agreement, according to news release.

The partnership is planning to launch its first product by late 2016.

The two companies are holding a ceremony scheduled for 6:00 tonight at The Frog and the Peach, in New Brunswick, to commemorate the agreement.

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