BMS makes another emerging market move with new Simcere deal

Bristol-Myers Squibb has sat back and watched many of its competitors jump into developing countries to grab growth opportunities. But the company, among the least active of Big Pharma players in emerging markets so far, is starting to make some moves--at least in China. Bristol-Myers ($BMY) has entered a collaboration on Orencia SC with Simcere Pharmaceutical Group ($SCR), its second China-related partnership this year.

The companies will work together on the development and commercialization of the subcutaneous formulation of BMS' rheumatoid arthritis med, already on the market in the U.S., Japan and Europe. Simcere will handle the regulatory side of things to attain market approval in China, and the companies will share profits and losses on the drug's sales there.

In the past, the two companies have partnered to develop experimental cancer and cardiovascular compounds. If successful, Orencia SC could become the company's first biologic on the Chinese market, Béatrice Cazala, BMS' executive vice president of commercial operations, said in a statement. "We are pleased to partner with Simcere on Orencia SC, moving beyond our companies' original focus on early development activities to a partnership focused on the clinical development and commercialization of one of our currently marketed products," she said.

This March, Merck Serono and Bristol-Myers forged a partnership aimed at the diabetes market in China. They agreed to copromote various formulations of Glucophage, a metformin product. The pair inked the deal to help expand geographic distribution of the drug and reach patients with less access.

Still, BMS has been far less aggressive in developing countries than most. Only 15% of sales last year came from countries outside the U.S. and Europe, which still includes Japan and South Korea. Emerging-market sales have accounted for only about 4% of Bristol-Myers Squibb's revenues over the last several years. That stands in stark contrast with companies like Novartis ($NVS) and Bayer HealthCare, for example, which boast emerging-market sales of 24% and 32% of global totals, respectively.

- read the release