AstraZeneca unit expands China operations

AstraZeneca's ($AZN) research arm MedImmune said it will spend $50 million to expand production in China and will also expand its manufacturing partnership with WuXi AppTec.

"The goal is to develop biologics locally in China for the Chinese market and also to understand the regulatory environment in China," Bing Yao, a senior vice president at MedImmune, said in a report by the Washington Post. "If you manufacture locally in China and develop there in parallel, it's much faster to market."

The expanded partnership deal will allow WuXi AppTec to manufacture drugs selected from MedImmune's pipeline for sale in China and also gives MedImmune an option to buy WuXi AppTec's manufacturing capacity through a $100 million investment.

AstraZeneca counts China as its second-largest market and employs 11,000 people at two factories there, a research and development facility and a distribution center, which are all located in or around Shanghai. MedImmune and WuXi App Tec started working together in 2012, according to the Washington Post report.

AstraZeneca said in a release that the company would also create a new center for pharmaceutical development to complement the ones it has in the U.K. and Sweden and would have 50 scientists on hand. It also said it would create an "integrated China medicines development organization" to combine "early and late-stage medicines development across small molecules and biologics."

The company said the investments would be used to speed up access to new medicines by Chinese patients in AstraZeneca's main therapy areas

- here's the release
- here's the report from the Washington Post