Pfizer says it is considering a manufacturing-focused partnership with China’s Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical as part of its generic drug business.
According to the US drug giant the collaboration could involve teaming up on the local production of off-patent medicines, with both parties contributing “select existing products and other relevant assets and capabilities.”
In a press statement David Simmons, president of Pfizer’s emerging markets and established products unit, said the deal would broaden the US drugmakers reach in China.
This was echoed by Pfizer spokeswoman Neena Moorjani who told Reuters that: “The joint venture will mainly target the local market in China while also exploring opportunities in global markets” and added that the combined value of the new entity could be around $295m.”
Pfizer, like most of its Big Pharma peers, has started to lose patent protection for some of its top-earning products over the last few years and has been repositioning accordingly.
One of Pfizer’s responses has been to increase its own efforts in generics, beginning with the creation of the ‘established products’ division.
The unit has spent the last few years forging deals with non-branded drugmakers that can increase its access to emerging markets, with Aurobindo Pharma , Claris Life Sciences and Strides Acrolab being notable examples.
In this context a partnership with Hisun would makes sense particularly given that, according to Pfizer, nearly 60 per cent of the drugs sold in China are non-branded products.
News of the potential agreement comes at a time of much speculation about the future of Pfizer’s established products business.
The prevailing wisdom is that Pfizer is looking to sell-off the unit as part of a plan to divest non-core operations, which includes the recently announced sale of Capsugel that CEO Ian Read spoke about earlier this year.
The speculation about the emerging products unit intensified late last month when during the firm’s first quarter results presentation when Read responded to an analysts question about its future.
“We have the critical mass and the size of our Established Products in the Emerging Markets for the business to be a stand-alone if we want it to be or if we wanted to try and look at some sort of way of improving the capabilities of that organization to be more effective.”