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Actionable news in SHPG: Shire plc,

Shire Cedes Biosimilar Field

Shire’s (NASDAQ:SHPG) decision to shed the legacy biosimilars portfolio of Baxalta is a sensible move given the group’s shift towards rare diseases. Sales and marketing forces attempting to appeal simultaneously to highly specialized physicians and cost-conscious payers would be working at cross-purposes.

Moreover, even in advance of major biosimilar launches in the US, scale looks to be an important indicator of success, with Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) now looking like they will take a big chunk of sales. Meanwhile, the victims of Shire’s clearance, Momenta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MNTA) and Coherus Biosciences (NASDAQ:CHRS), saw shares rise yesterday, as the decision could clear the way for more dealmaking (see table below).

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Shire returned to Momenta rights to Bax 2923/M923, a Humira biosimilar, and to Coherus rights to BAX 2200/CHS-0214, an Enbrel lookalike. Coherus said it was not responsible for any payments now or in the future to Shire, while Momenta stated that Shire would be responsible for funding M923 development for another year.

Neither agent is likely to be first to market. Novartis’ (NYSE:NVS) Enbrel copy Erelzi received approval in late August, followed by Amgen’s Humira biosimilar Amjevita earlier this week. Both are held up by patent issues – the trial date to resolve Enbrel’s intellectual property is not...