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Pfizer Plans China Low-Cost Generics Drug Venture With Hisun

Pfizer Inc. plans to partner with China’s Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to produce low-cost generics for the world’s third-biggest drug market. Hisun shares rose the most in seven months in Shanghai.

Pfizer is looking for new sources of revenue before it loses U.S. patent protection in November for Lipitor, the cholesterol medication that was the world’s best-selling drug last year with $10.7 billion in sales. Off-patent medicines, including branded generics, are one of the fastest growing segments in the global pharmaceutical market, Pfizer and Hisun said in a joint press release issued late yesterday.

“The joint venture will mainly target the local market in China while also exploring opportunities in global markets,” said Neena Moorjani, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, said in an e-mailed response to questions. The two companies “will focus on branded generic medicine” and “could contribute selected existing products,” she said, adding their combined investment in the potential venture would amount to about $295 million.

China’s pharmaceutical market, the world’s third largest, is predicted to grow at least 25 percent this year, according to U.S. based pharmaceutical research firm IMS Health. Generics account for 60 percent of the domestic market, Pfizer and Hisun said in the release.

Pfizer is already the top drug company in China ranked by sales, followed by AstraZeneca PLC and Sanofi, according to IMS Health.

Shares Gain

“The potential joint venture would be an important milestone for Pfizer’s efforts to broaden the reach of its world-class healthcare solutions in China,” David Simmons, Pfizer’s head of Established Products and Emerging Markets, said in the press release.

Hisun shares rose 2.9 percent to 36.92 yuan at the 11:30 a.m. trading break in Shanghai, after earlier gaining as much as 7 percent, the largest intraday increase since October.

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