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Bigpharma increases activity in China

Posted on 27 April 2011

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The start of 2011 has seen some significant deal activity involving Bigpharma in China.

It has long been recognised that whilst Bigpharma has many challenges ahead in terms of growing and maintaining revenues and profitability in mature markets, the opportunities represented by China are too big to ignore.

Over the past few years, numerous companies including Novartis, Pfizr, Merck & Co, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, have made numerous inroads into China through partnering and M&A transactions. In addition, the companies have been made significant investments in establishing their own R&D functions in the region.

Most recently, Takeda has agreed with China Medical City in Taizhou to make a significant investment to build R&D, manufacturing, and marketing facilities in China (see below for details).

Pfizer has recently signed two deals with a China focus: the first with Shanghai Pharmaceutical for the distribution and marketing of Pfizer products in China; the second with Daiichi Sankyo for the co-promotion of Daiichi Sankyo’s olmersartan medoxomil in China.

Table 1: Bigpharma partnering deals in China – 2011

Date PartiesStageTherapy AreaValue US$mSubject
20/04/2011Pfizer, Shanghai PharmaceuticalMarketedn/dDistribution and marketing agreement for products
04/04/2011Daiichi Sankyo, PfizerMarketedHypertensionn/dCo-promotion agreement for olmesartan medoxomil
31/03/2011Astellas, Cardeus PharmaceuticalsPhase I, Phase II, PreclinicalAnginan/dDevelopment, licensing and manufacturing agreement for YM758, ASP6537 and one other compound
30/03/2011Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, Intercept PharmaceuticalsPhase I, Phase IICirrhosis, Liver disease315Development and licensing agreement for obeticholic acid (INT-747)
23/03/2011Takeda Pharmaceuticaln/dContract service agreement to build new facility in China

Source: Current Agreements, April 2011

Deal activity has not been limited to partnering alone.

In the first three months of 2011, the have been two significant M&A acquisitions in China by Bigpharma.

Firstly Merck KGaA acquired Beijing Skywing Technology, a leading provider of cell culture media products and bioreactors for the Chinese biopharmaceutical industry. The acquisition allows Merck to quickly establish a presence in this market segment in China.

Secondly, Novartis has acquired an 85% stake in Zhejiang Tianyuan Bio-Pharmaceutical, a vaccines company. Again, this provides a Bigpharma company with significant presence in a rapidly growing market segment in China.

Table 2: Bigpharma M&A deals in China – 2011

Date PartiesValue US$mSubject
22/03/2011Novartis, Zhejiang Tianyuan Bio-Pharmaceuticaln/dAcquisition agreement for 85% stake in Zhejiang Tianyuan Bio-Pharmaceutical
05/01/2011Beijing Skywing Technology, Merck KGaA18.3Acquisition agreement for Beijing Skywing Technology

Source: Current Agreements, April 2011

We anticipate that the number of partnering and M&A deals with a China focus will continue throughout 2011 and beyond as bigpharma seeks to establish a strong presence in the rapidly growing and lucrative market. We also anticipate significant consolidation in the Chinese market as regional players seek to build consolidate a position of critical mass in order to compete with western companies as well as to establish R&D capabilities of their own.

Steve Poile, CEO, Wildwood Ventures


Current Agreements is a premium subscription database providing comprehensive business information and intelligence with access to thousands of contract documents, giving coverage of all deals and alliances across the life sciences sector.

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