Merck to launch new drugs in India, seeks partner

NEW DELHI, Nov 14 (BestGrowthStock) – Merck & Co (MRK.N: ) plans to
launch two drugs in India in the first half of 2011 and is also
looking for a strategic partner to fill its portfolio gap in
the country, a senior company official said on Sunday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s
India summit in New Delhi, Ramesh Subrahmanian, president of
Merck’s Asia Pacific operations, said the drugmaker plans to
launch a new rotavirus vaccine and a new cardiovascular drug in
India between January and June of next year, he said.

The rotavirus vaccine is used to prevent diarrhea.

Subrahmanian also said the drugmaker, which has a portfolio
of 60 to 70 drugs in India, is seeking a strategic partner in
the country.

“It has to fill a strategic gap…it could be portfolio
gaps, capability gaps,” Subrahmanian said.

Emerging markets such as India are the new battleground for
pharmaceutical companies as sales stall in Western markets, but
the focus on volume makes them a very different business
proposition to premium-priced markets in the United States and
Europe.

An opportunity to tap into the healthcare needs of more
than a billion people, and the ability to sell drugs made by
Indian pharamaceutical companies, has been driving cross-border
deals in the sector.

Abbott Laboratories Inc (ABT.N: ) paid $3.7 billion in May
for the branded generic drugs operations of India’s Piramal
Healthcare after beating competition from Western rivals for
the asset.

Last month, Pfizer Inc (PFE.N: ) agreed to pay $200 million
upfront to sell insulin made by India’s Biocon Ltd (BION.BO: ) in
most markets outside India.

(Reporting by Sanjeev Choudhary; editing by Jui
Chakravorty)

Merck to launch new drugs in India, seeks partner