Dr. Reddy's, Fujifilm pull plug on Japanese joint venture

After almost two years of discussions and dealmaking, Fujifilm and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories ($RDY) have called off their plot to team up on generics in Japan.

Under the initial agreement, signed back in 2011, Fujifilm would own 51% of a joint venture targeting Japan's growing generics market, the sixth largest in the world, and the pair planned to launch a plant in the country to manufacturer their products.

Now, however, Fujifilm would rather focus on proprietary cancer drugs, Vice President Takatoshi Ishikawa said, but the company is still keeping its ears open to future partnerships with Dr. Reddy's in API development, branded generics and contract research.

For Dr. Reddy's, nixing the long-planned Fujifilm deal will slow its Japanese entré, as the two had planned to launch their co-branded drugs by 2015, and going it alone will likely take longer. But the generics giant is still committed to getting its products up for sale in the country, CEO GV Prasad said. And, thanks to a governmental focus on increasing access to cheap copycat drugs, analysts expect the Japanese market to boom, so the Indian heavyweight will have its work cut out for it.

But the promise of the Japanese generics market is hardly a secret among pharma's other big players, and while Fujifilm and Dr. Reddy's couldn't work out their differences, Pfizer ($PFE) and Mylan ($MYL) are still on good terms for their planned JV, plotting to manufacture and sell about 350 off-patent treatments in Japan under Pfizer's recognizable logo.

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