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US-BASED Biogen Idec has not renewed its product distribution agreement with Mumbai-based Piramal Healthcare that expired last December and now plans to sell its entire range of drugs through a wholly-owned Indian arm, a top company official said.

With annual revenues of $4.4 billion, Biogen Idec is one of the largest biotech drugmakers globally. “Our five-year marketing tie-up with Piramal Healthcare for Avonex expired last year end. The drug is now being sold by our own sales team,” said Alpna Seth managing director at Biogen Idec Biotech India. The US biotech firm had set up its wholly owned Indian subsidiary in 2007 but the firm was not engaged in commercial activity.

Used to treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a neurological disorder, Avonex has global sales of $2.3 billion or over half of total revenues of Biogen Idec. Besides Avonex, Biogen also markets a cancer drug Mabthera through Swiss company Roche through a global marketing arrangement, which would continue.

Biogen will also roll out its entire range of medicines in the fast growing Rs 40,000 crore Indian retail drug market over the next few years through its Indian arm. The American company is currently awaiting regulatory approval to launch another blockbuster drug Tysarbi in India and plans to seek nod to sell Fampridine in the country, in a year’s time. “We have sought patents for these drugs in India and the country will be part of future global launches of all our drugs,” Ms Seth added.

Biogen, which focusses on neurology, oncology, heamophilia, immunology and cardiopulmonary has about 10 drugs in the final stages of development. 
 While it would import these drugs from global plants, it is open to have a manufacturing plant in emerging markets. In 2007, Biogen decided to set up subsidiaries in key emerging markets including China, India and Brazil but revenues from these markets are currently insignificant.

Biogen is also exploring opportunities to buy new products and companies in India, though it has not identified any target, Ms Seth added.

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