Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has agreed a deal with China's Simcere Pharmaceutical to develop a product to help prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The deal will see the companies work together to develop BMS's investigational compound BMS-795311, with Simcere to run and fund the initial development work.
The compound is a small molecule inhibitor of the Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein (CETP), which works to help raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). As HDL carries cholesterol, triglycerides and other fats in the blood to the liver, increased levels can help decrease the risk of CVD.
Financial terms were not disclosed but Simcere will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialise the product in China, while BMS will retain exclusive rights in all other markets.
Dr Francis Cuss, senior vice president, Research, BMS, said the move is part of the company's 'Oyster Strategy' to work with companies in key markets during the early stages in the development of promising investigational medicines in BMS' pipeline.
The deal follows a similar partnership agreed between the two companies last year to co-develop BMS' small-molecule MET/VEGFR-2 inhibitor, BMS-817378, for use in cancer treatment. As per the latest deal, Simcere obtained the drug's rights in China, while BMS retained rights in all other markets.
Cuss commented: “That partnership, focused on an oncology compound, has gone extremely well and we are excited to expand our relationship to include a second collaboration in another therapeutic area. Working together we are building on the strengths of both organisations to develop potential medicines and help patients.”
China is becoming an increasingly important focus for major US and European pharmaceutical companies, due to both its emergence as a crucial healthcare market and because R&D costs tend to be cheaper in the country.
China also recently announced plans to improve drug safety, including the increased monitoring of pharmaceutical companies to address what the State Council described as a 'high-risk stage' in medicinal safety.
Other companies to have made moves into the Chinese market in recent months include Merck & Co with its $1.5bn R&D investment in the country and AstraZeneca's proposed purchase of Chinese generics firm Guangdong BeiKang Pharmaceutical Company.
According to PMGroup's Country Report: China, the healthcare market grew by 26 per cent in the country between 2008 and 2010.