Pfizer plots JV with China's Hisun Pharma

Pfizer has agreed to team with a Chinese drugmaker on branded generics. The company has inked a memorandum of understanding with Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceuticals to collaborate on manufacturing and marketing off-patent drugs.

Under the deal, both companies could contribute existing products and other assets to the joint venture. Branded generics are a big business in China, accounting for some 60 percent of the drug market, Dow Jones reports. And that drug market is growing at a rapid pace, far faster than mature markets such as the U.S. and Europe.

And that is why so many global drugmakers are scrambling for footholds in China. Roche and Eli Lilly are among the Big Pharma firms staffing up on the sales side. Sanofi has teamed up with a domestic player to sell OTC drugs, and it's working with the government to make inroads in the diabetes market. Merck, meanwhile, has a new collaboration with Sinopharm to sell vaccines and potentially prescription drugs.

Amid all that activity, Pfizer's partnership with Hisun would help broaden its own Chinese footprint. "The potential joint venture would be an important milestone for Pfizer's efforts to broaden the reach of its world-class healthcare solutions in China," said David Simmons, Pfizer's emerging markets and established products chief.

- see the release from Pfizer
- read the Dow Jones piece