Monday, April 11, 2011

Sun Pharma, Merck venture to target emerging markets

Mumbai : In an effort to develop and manufacture innovative, branded generic medicines for the emerging markets, Mumbai-based Sun Pharmaceutical has entered into a joint-venture with the US' Merck & Co.

The joint-venture, with “equal representation”, will require investment and commitment from both partners, Sun Pharma's Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Dilip S. Shanghvi, said, adding that it would take more than a couple of years to develop these products.

Senior officials of both companies will make recommendations on the structure of the company and the technologies from Sun Pharma's research arm (SPARC – Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company Limited's), that would be leveraged or moved into the new entity, said

Merck's President (Global Human Health), Mr Adam H. Schechter.

No details were divulged on the products or therapeutic areas that the new joint-venture would focus on, the milestone payments that could come to Sun, if products from its pipeline were leveraged, besides the revenue or intellectual property-sharing model. Also unaddressed is where the joint-venture company would operate from.

The venture would look at chronic indications, officials said, adding that the legal structure would be formed in the next few weeks.

Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, will provide the clinical and registration expertise, besides the geographical footprint. Sun would provide access to its research technologies and manufacturing facilities, officials said.

Both companies reiterated that their existing businesses and products would continue to function outside of this agreement and maintain their “current structure and character”.

The tie-up will leverage technologies developed by Sun Pharma's research arm, as a result, easing the funding pressure on Sun Pharma, an analyst observed. Also, other drug-majors have been entering into similar arrangements, given the pressure on finance to fund research, he added.

Branded generics are off-patent drugs or medicines similar to an innovative drug, but after the exclusive patent period had lapsed - that are nevertheless sold under a brandname.Sun Pharma shares were up 2 per cent at Rs 450 on the BSE on Monday.


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