Merck Takes a Second Jab at China


The activity of brands in China lately is something akin to the California Gold Rush of the 1840s and 1850s. It seems like every major brand is scrambling to get a piece of the world’s most robust economy.

China’s consumer population is a tantalizing market for virtually every industry. China is already challenging America’s Silicon Valley for technology supremacy. Fashion and luxury brands are flocking to the country, revving up operations and opening new stores.

In just the past few weeks, we’ve reported on Apple, Burberry, GM, Hermes, and Pabst beer making new inroads into mainland China.

Add drug companies to that list. Merck is forming a joint venture to market its vaccines in China.[more]

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, while Merck already has operations in China, its new venture with Sinopharm, the largest pharmaceutical distributor and biopharmaceutical manufacturer in the country, will expand its ability to focus on “the commercialization of certain vaccines.”

Merck’s vaccines include Gardasil, one of only two approved to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV). Other Merck products could be distributed and marketed in China as part of the partnership.

The China and India emerging markets represent a massive opportunity for big pharma. Eli Lilly is aggressively marketing in China, expanding its sales force and investing $100 million, primarily in Chinese companies, says the Journal. India’s Piramal Healthcare, meanwhile, recently struck a deal to sell its generic-drugs unit to Abbott Laboratories.