Sanofi has enlisted the aid of Pune-based Emcure Pharmaceuticals to help its market and distribute its cancer drugs portfolio in India.
Under the terms of the deal, Emcure will take over marketing of Sanofi's oncology range - which consists of Taxotere (docetaxel), Jevtana (cabazitaxel), Fludara (fludarabine) and Fasturtec (rasburicase), with the French pharma company providing "scientific and medical support". Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.
The head of Sanofi's Indian subsidiary, Shailesh Ayyangar, said the alliance came from a recognition that "managing the complexities of cancer necessitates the availability of a wide range of products and supporting therapies".
"Doctors and patients will now have access - 'under one roof' - to one of the most comprehensive and complementing oncology portfolios in India," he added.
Emcure has emerged as a strong player in India's oncology market in recent years, as evidenced by an earlier agreement with Roche for the manufacture of cancer drugs Herceptin (trastuzumab) and MabThera (rituximab.
Emcure is ranked among the top 15 pharmaceutical companies in India in terms of market share based on domestic pharma sales but ranks considerably higher in cancer and other core therapeutic areas in which it operates, according to papers filed in support of its recently-withdrawn initial public offering (IPO).
The deal indicates the importance attached by the pharma industry to the $15bn domestic Indian drugs market, despite an economic slowdown as well as a series of intellectual property (IP) disputes that have threatened to undermine inward investment in the country.
Earlier this year, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) failed in an attempt to get India listed as a Priority Foreign Country by the US Trade Representative, which opted instead for negotiations with the new Indian government under Narendra Modi.
Since then, the Indian government has announced it will spend around $510m beefing up regulatory capacity at the federal and state level.
The aim is to bring India's reference system for drug testing and IP "on par with top world standards in two- to three-years and will even match the US in three- to five-years", according to comments attributed Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) D N Singh by Business Monitor International.