Sanofi, Nichi-iko announce Japanese joint venture

It's official: Sanofi-Aventis  (NYSE: SNY) has cemented an alliance with Japan's Nichi-iko Pharmaceutical in a bid to capture part of the fast-growing Japanese generics market. The move comes after the Japanese government pledged to increase generics usage--something Big Pharma has noted with great interest.

Sanofi will own 51 percent of the joint venture, and as part of the deal will buy a 4.66 percent stake in Nichi-iko for $48 million. The J.V.'s first task will be to take over marketing and distribution in Japan for Sanofi's sleep drug Amoban, which brought in sales of €43 million ($53 million) in Japan last year. Nichi-iko will promote the drug through its network of pharmacies, wholesalers, and medical institutions, the company says in a statement.

Obviously, this is just the latest Japanese push by a major Western drugmaker. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NASDAQ: TEVA) are among those making concerted forays into that country, aiming to capture some of that generic-drug growth. And this is just one of Sanofi's recently-forged alliances in markets--such as Brazil and Mexico--that are growing faster than the market for branded drugs in the U.S. and Europe.

- see the Sanofi release
- read the story from Dow Jones
- check out the Reuters article