Merck amps up in China with Simcere JV

Merck is expanding its tent in China with another partnership, this time with Simcere Pharmaceutical Group. It's a drug follow-up to the company's vaccines partnership with Sinopharm, which began with a deal to sell Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine. That link-up was intended to spread to other shots and, possibly, prescription meds.

The Simcere joint venture, still subject to final conditions, will focus at first on branded drugs for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, with each company contributing existing products for manufacturing and marketing. On the CV side, think Zocor and Cozaar from Merck, and Simcere's Shufutan (Crestor), which it markets under license. In the metabolic area, the partnership will start with the diabetes drug Januvia, aiming to "maximize access" in a country that's facing a growing problem with that disease.

The partnership will also work on the development side of things, but the details on that are sketchy at this point. "This partnership is another step forward in Merck's strategy to grow our business in China and is fully aligned with the Chinese government's goal to increase access to quality products," Adam Schechter, Merck's president of global human health, said in a statement.

China, of course, is one of the world's most promising markets for drugmakers. Pharmaceutical sales there are enjoying double-digit growth, and the market is expected to reach $73 billion by 2013. Merck is aiming to boost its sales in the country by more than 20% per year, but for that, it will have to contend with virtually every Big Pharma competitor. 

- get the release from Merck
- read the RTT News story