GlaxoSmithKline moves ahead with plans for Chinese vaccine joint venture: report

GlaxoSmithKline is in talks to form a joint venture in China focused on vaccines as it looks to capitalise on the country's expected updates to its immunisation schedule, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. "We are keen to find a partner in China," remarked Christophe Weber, head of the company’s vaccines unit, noting that over the next 10 years, "the Chinese government will progressively upgrade its immunisation calendar, and we want to be there and to be a partner when that happens."

According to Weber, discussions with a number of potential domestic partners have not been affected by the ongoing investigation into alleged bribery by some GlaxoSmithKline executives in China. He suggested that the joint venture will follow similar collaborations in Japan with Daiichi Sankyo and in India with Biological E. The latter partnership is focused on combining GlaxoSmithKline’s polio immunisation with Biological E’s five-in-one vaccine. Weber suggested that similar collaborations will assist the company in developing regional vaccines targeted at specific populations.

GlaxoSmithKline said that it currently holds a 24-percent share of the global vaccines market, followed by Sanofi with a 23-percent stake. Despite sales from GlaxoSmithKline's vaccine unit declining 2 percent in 2012 to 3.3 billion pounds ($5.1 billion), mainly as a result of Japan ending an immunisation programme involving the human papillomavirus vaccine Cervarix, Weber suggested that the company expects growth this year. The executive added that sales in China will be driven by an increasing population and efforts to reduce child mortality, while revenue from emerging markets will be double that in the US or Europe in 10 years.

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