Novartis has negotiated a $125 million cash deal to purchase 85% of Chinese vaccines company Zhejiang Tianyuan BioPharmaceuticals. The announcement comes just 24 hours after Novartis confirmed plans for a five-year, $1.25 billion investment plan in China, involving the construction of a new Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research in Shanghai and a global technical center for APIs in Changshu.
The proposed acquisition of Tianyuan will see Novartis working with the company to expand its product portfolio and R&D pipeline. Novartis says that the partnership is also expected to facilitate the introduction of Novartis vaccines into China, where it currently has limited exposure. Novartis’ vaccine offerings in China currently only comprise influenza and rabies products.
Tianyuan is a privately owned company with a range of marketed vaccine products in China, including seasonal influenza, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, Japanese encephalitis, and meningococcal meningitis. The company’s DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), meningococcal Men PS A, and typhoid Vi PS vaccines are currently progressing through regulatory submission. Earlier-stage products in development include a pandemic H5N1 flu vaccine, a pneumococcal polyscaccharide vaccine, a hemophilus influenza type B vaccine, and a meningococcal A/C conjugate vaccine. Tianyuan’s net sales doubled in the 2006–2008 period to $25 million.
Daniel Vasella, Novartis chairman and CEO, says that the acquisition of Tianyuan will represent “an important step in our strategy to enhance the prevention of diseases in China with high-quality products.” The company suggests that China represents the world’s third-largest vaccines market, with annual industry sales of over $1 billion and expected double-digit growth as a result of governmental plans to improve access to healthcare for the whole population.