Initiative will start with portfolio of branded cardiovascular and metabolic disease drugs.

Merck & Co. and China’s Simcere Pharmaceutical are establishing a joint venture that aims to expand the development, registration, and sale of drugs in China. The partnership will initially focus on branded pharmaceuticals for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Under the joint venture framework the firms will offer a combined portfolio of cardiovascular disease drugs including Merck’s Zocor® (simvastatin), Cozaar® (losartan), and Renitec® (enalapril) as well as Simcere’s Xinta (levamlodipine) and Shufutan (resuvastatin). In the field of metabolic diseases the alliance aims to maximize access in China to the type 2 diabetes drug sitagliptin.

“This partnership is another step forward in Merck’s strategy to grow our business in China and is fully aligned with the Chinese government’s goal to increase access to quality products,” comments Adam Schechter, president of Merck global human health.  

Zhijun Luo, secretary of China’s Jiangsu Provincial Committee, said the agreement also represents a landmark for Jiangsu’s biopharmaceutical industry. “Biopharmaceuticals is an emerging industry of strategic importance for Jiangsu Province, and this partnership will bring additional momentum to the development of this industry.”

Chinese firm Simcere specializes in the development, manufacture, and marketing of branded generic and proprietary drugs in its home country. The firm has grown to operate six certified GMP manufacturing facilities, two nationwide sales and marketing subsidiaries, a research and development center, and more than 3,000 employees.

Over more recent years Simcere has increasingly focused on the development of first-to-market generics and proprietary pharmaceuticals, including the first-to-market generic stroke management drug Bicun and the anticancer drug Endu, a modified version of endostatin.

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