South Korea's Samsung Group has announced plans to form a 'strategic partnership' with US contract research organisation (CRO), Quintiles, as it gears up to enter the biopharma market.
The deal represents the first phase of an expected $1.9bn (€1.4bn) investment in the healthcare sector by the conglomerate, which has provided initial capital of $264.4m in the joint venture with Quintiles.
Under the terms of the agreement, Quintiles will produce biosimilar versions of a number of best-selling cancer and immunological drugs for Samsung, as well as part-funding the construction of a new manufacturing plant in the Incheon Free Economic Zone, just outside Seoul, South Korea.
“South Korea is an important part of our growth strategy,” said Anand Tharmaratnam, senior VP and head of Asia markets of Quintiles, “This strategic partnership illustrates how Quintiles can use its resources an expertise across the clinical, commercial, consulting and capital spectrum. We're also very pleased to drive innovation and advance the role of south Korea in the global pharmaceutical industry.”
Paul Casey, vice president and head of Asia corporate development for Quintiles, said the deal “shows we are committed to developing non-traditional alliances” and suggested it demonstrated Quintiles's willingness to “seize opportunities in the complex industry landscape.”
In a statement released on Monday, the US firm claimed the new site – scheduled for completion in 2013 - would be “fully equipped with cutting-edge technologies.” Construction is set to begin later this year.
Meanwhile, Kim Tae-han, a Samsung senior executive told a recent news briefing: “We aim to launch another joint venture for biosimilars this year,” suggesting the cash-rich firm may look to make further acquisitions in the near future.
The company recently bought a stake in US medical equipment manufacturer, Medison, and has already intimated its desire to begin the development and manufacture of its own drugs once it gains more manufacturing experience.