Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) wants to continue building its presence in China. Company officials said Sanofi-Aventis will seek additional partnerships following the joint venture announced last month with Minsheng Pharmaceutical, a JV that will develop vitamin and mineral products in the consumer healthcare sector. Sanofi has gone on record to say it prefers the partnership approach in China, as opposed to building its own R&D center.
"The deal with Minsheng Pharmaceutical is expected to receive regulatory approval within 2010, and we are still seeking other cooperation opportunities," said Thomas Kelly, vice president of Sanofi-Aventis Greater China.
On a different front, Sanofi-Aventis announced it was cooperating with the Chinese Diabetes Society to study type 2 diabetes, an important field for Sanofi. Sanofi will underwrite the work with a 20 million RMB ($2.9 million) grant.
The research will examine the effects of lifestyle intervention in 7,000 patients with metabolic syndrome over five years. The study will record the effects of the intervention in terms of cardiovascular events. This project will be in addition to another research endeavor, announced last year, which is conducting a genetic study of 12,000 type 2 diabetes patients in China, seeking to identify risk factors for the disease.
According to the Chinese Diabetes Society, direct treatment costs of type 2 diabetes and related complications amounted to approximately 19 billion RMB ($2.75 billion) in China\'s urban regions, about 4% percent of the country\'s total health care spending. China has the second-largest population of people with diabetes in the world.
In April 2009, Sanofi-Aventis announced it would invest 600 million RMB ($90 million) to expand its Beijing manufacturing facility so that it could produce the company’s insulin drug, Lantus® for the China market. Lantus is a pre-filled injection, delivered via the SoloSTAR® pen device, which provides once-daily insulin to people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Sanofi-Aventis’ facility is located in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area.