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Epirus to sell CHO platform and biosimilar IP to Polpharma

As part of a cost-savings restructure, Epirus is selling the assets from its $14m acquisition of Bioceros last September to its biosimilars partner Polpharma.

Last year , Epirus Biopharmaceuticals paid $14m (€12.5m) for Netherlands-based Bioceros Holding BV, adding three biosimilar candidates and a proprietary Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) platform (CHO) for the manufacture of monoclonal antibodies.

But nine months later, the firm has announced in an SEC filing it is selling the Dutch subsidiary, including the “CHOBC cell line platform, all related intellectual property rights, a fully equipped laboratory and bioreactor capabilities” to its biosimilar development partner Polpharma for $3.5m.

The firm will retain exclusive rights to develop BOW080 and BOW070 – intended copycat versions of Alexion’s Soliris (eculizumab) and Chugai/Roche’s Actemra (tocilizumab), respectively – and said:

This decision was based on cost-savings and not due to technical reasons, the firm said in a filing in May , and was accompanied with plans to reduce the workforce by 40%. Epirus also said that with these measures it still only had “sufficient cash resources to continue its operations through the second quarter of 2016.”

The beneficiary of the sale, Polpharma, has been working with Epirus since July 2015 when the two firms struck a development and commercialisation agreement for a number of biosimilar products.