Sector News

Merck hands over China joint venture to partner Simcere Pharma

February 10, 2015
Life sciences
Merck is bowing out of its Chinese joint venture with Simcere Pharmaceutical. Merck forged the partnership in 2011 as a way to build up in the fast-growing market, with a focus on branded generic drugs.
 
Merck will hand over control to Simcere, a company spokeswoman told FiercePharma, as part of a shift in strategy at the joint venture. The venture, known as SMSD, “will now focus on local innovative and mature products, serving the local market,” she said in an email. “The operation will be managed by Simcere Pharmaceutical Group in this new capacity.”
 
The changes are designed to “better meet challenges posed by the rapidly changing external environment,” the spokeswoman said.
 
Under the 2011 deal, each company handed over pharma assets to the JV, with Merck holding a majority 51% stake and Simcere claiming the rest. Among the drugs Merck contributed were its diabetes blockbuster Januvia, its now-off-patent statin drug Zocor and cardio med Cozaar.
 
The Merck spokeswoman didn’t say whether the company’s ownership stake in SMSD would change, or whether it would pull any products out of the deal. She did suggest that rejigging the partnership was part of Merck’s overall restructuring. “Pharmaceutical companies are seeking transformation and reform, with a focus on their priority areas,” she noted.
 
Merck has been remaking itself by selling off businesses, including its consumer health unit, which went to Bayer last year for $14 billion.
 
One of the JV’s stated goals was spreading its products beyond major cities. The spokeswoman says the partnership succeeded. “Driven by the goal of improving medical accessibility, SMSD has built up multiple promotion channels and platforms to serve the China market, covering areas from the eastern seaboard to inland China, from developed cities to villages,” she said.
 
China’s sales and marketing channels have changed rapidly, the spokeswoman said, and e-channels continue to expand. “At the same time, SMSD has established a comparatively mature, professional, compliant team,” she said. “They have delivered quality and mature brands, especially in the areas of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic diseases to patients to help overcome ever-increasing chronic disease challenges in China.”
 
Merck’s pharmaceutical sales in China hit $1.2 billion in 2014, up 13% from $1.1 billion in 2013. Overall, Merck sales grew 14% there last year.
 
By EJ Lane
 

Related News

March 6, 2021

Takeda takes full control of drug for rare epilepsies

Life sciences

The deal inked with New York-based Ovid Therapeutics carries an almost $200 million upfront payment and could be worth as much as $856 million provided the medicine, known as soticlestat, hits certain milestones. 

March 6, 2021

Novartis signs Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing agreement with CureVac

Life sciences

Novartis has entered an initial agreement to manufacture the mRNA and bulk drug product for CureVac’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV.

March 6, 2021

Disney teams with Philips to bring its characters to pediatric imaging

Life sciences

A whole new world: Philips and the Walt Disney Company will use animated shorts featuring some of Disney’s most famous characters in customized stories created with clinical guidance from Philips.

Send this to a friend