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GSK and Daiichi Sankyo forge Japanese vaccines venture

The companies hope that by combining they can lead the market

GlaxoSmithKline and Daiichi Sankyo have set up a joint venture that aims to be the top vaccine manufacturer in Japan's tough-to-crack vaccines market.

The JV will have rights to both parent companies' existing portfolio of vaccine products from the off, including GSK's cervical cancer shot Cervarix, and will also have rights to new vaccines comes though the companies' development pipelines. GSK and Daiichi Sankyo are putting up 100 million yen (around $1.23m) to cover the initial start-up costs.

Japan's immunisation market is notoriously difficult for overseas manufacturers to crack, but is the second largest vaccines market in the world with an estimated value of around $1.75bn.

More than 90 per cent of vaccines delivered in the country are manufactured by domestic companies, as a result of a lack of clinical development guidelines, differing product specification and quality control test standards as well as political barriers.

The deal with Daiichi Sankyo gives GSK a conduit into the Japanese market and marks "another step in our strategy to build our presence in key growth markets", said Christophe Weber, head of GSK's vaccines business.

Vaccines siphoned into the JV will be sold at agreed-upon prices, said GSK, which expect sales synergies from the new organisation. The companies will have an equal stake in the JV and will split profits 50/50, with a portion going toward funding ongoing capital needs of the new entity, which should be up and running in the third-quarter subject to local regulatory approvals.

Daiichi Sankyo formerly operated a long-running vaccines JV in Japan with Sanofi Pasteur, which was taken over by Sanofi in 2010.

That JV is credited as being instrumental in opening up the Japanese market for Sanofi's big-selling ActHIB paediatric vaccine for the prevention of infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacterium.

2nd March 2012

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