NEW YORK (AP) — Generic drug developer Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Lonza Group Ltd. said Monday they are forming a joint venture to make and sell copies of biotechnology-based drugs.Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. The products are known as biosimilar, or sometimes called biogeneric, because they are attempts at copies of drugs that are made using living cells, unlike more traditional chemical-based drugs. Unlike generic versions of chemical-based drugs, there is currently no process in the U.S. for reviewing and approving copies of biosimilars. The biotechnology industry and generic drug industry have been fighting over patent issues, market exclusivity issues and how to make the copies safely. Because the compounds are made using living cells, many in the industry say any copy would actually be a new drug because the process would have to be recreated. Advocates and lobbyists for both sectors expect Congress to take up the issue again this year.”We had identified biosimilars as a major growth driver for Teva in our long-term strategy and have been augmenting our knowledge base, capabilities and infrastructure to position Teva as a leader in this market”, said Teva President and Chief Executive Shlomo Yanai, in a statement. The joint venture is expected to start during the first quarter of 2009. Teva is based in Israel and Lonza is based in Switzerland. Teva, and several other companies have been beefing up their biotech holdings in anticipation of the biosimilar market opening up. Last January, Teva bought biotechnology company CoGenesys for $400 million. More recently Merck & Co.’s announced a $1.5 billion, six-year program to develop copies of biotech drugs.