Deal is part of Fujifilm’s strategy to boost its presence in the life science market.

Fujifilm and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories signed a memorandum of understanding for an exclusive partnership in the generic drugs business for the Japanese market. They also plan on establishing a joint venture (JV) in Japan. Fujifilm would have a 51% stake in the JV and Dr. Reddy’s the rest.

The new company is expected to develop, manufacture, and promote generic drugs utilizing Fujifilm’s quality-control technologies built through its photo film business as well as Dr. Reddy’s expertise in cost competitive production technologies for APIs and formulations. The first products will be launched in the next three to four years. The JV also plans to design drugs that fit the specific requirements of the Japanese market.

Since 2008, Fujifilm has been ramping up its presence in the life science sector likely to counteract decreasing demand for its photo film and paper business. Fujifilm reported a decrease of 16% last year in the sales of digital cameras, color films, and imaging solutions. The firm has said that it plans on tripling its size over the coming decade and moving into a highly profitable and growing market.

Fujifilm initially entered the pharmaceutical business by buying a majority stake in Japan’s Toyama Chemical that makes OTC products but whose main draw is an experimental avian influenza medicine called T-705. Toyama became a consolidated subsidiary of Fujifilm in March 2008.

In May 2009, GE Healthcare signed a strategic alliance to co-develop biomolecular imaging systems based on Fujifilm’s CCD and laser-based imaging technology. According to terms of the deal, GE will market the products under its own brands to the life science research and drug discovery markets worldwide.

In February of this year Fujifilm picked up Merck & Co.’s contract manufacturing facilities in an acquisition reported to be worth $490 million. Fujifilm gains all the equity interest in both Diosynth and MSD Biologics, including facilities in North Carolina and Northeast England, manufacturing business support operations, and workforce.

Then in June, through the newly formed Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies business, the firm inked a deal to add a 1,000 L Xcellerex® single-use bioreactor to its Research Triangle Park, NC, facility. The expansion is anticipated to be validated and fully operational by the first quarter of 2012.

The other hi-tech company making a play in biopharma is Samsung. Almost six months ago it reported plans to set up a KRW 300 billion JV with Quintiles Transnational for the contract manufacture of biopharmaceuticals.

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