Global pharma major Merck, which formed a joint venture with Sun Pharma, said that it was open for more alliances/ partnerships with other Indian companies as part of the growth strategy for emerging markets and launch innovative new products.

Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, viral diseases, anti-infectives, and dermatology are among the areas in which Merck & Co, known as MSD in India and markets outside the U.S. and Canada, will seek to have alliances/ joint ventures to leverage its expertise, Kevin Ali, President, Emerging Markets, Merck, told The Hindu here on the sidelines of Bio-Asia 2012, which began here on Thursday.

He said Merck, at present the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world, had great plans for emerging markets with a strategy to bring out innovative products. With 18 per cent of the global sales of $48 billion coming from emerging markets, the objective was to increase it to 25 per cent by 2013.

Mr. Ali said the company had “big plans” for India, one of the key emerging countries. Although MSD was ranked 28 in India, it was climbing fast as it had made investments in different areas and employed 2,000 people. The growth rate achieved last year in India was faster than the industry rate and the company intended to launch new innovative products in the coming years. “India clearly is a destination on a number of fronts,” he affirmed.

On affordable pricing, he said the company believed in responsible pricing and every product was competitively priced within the market segment in India. Pointing out that a lot of out-of-pocket expenditure was spent on medications in India, he said “we feel an obligation to price responsibly”.

Referring to the R&D joint venture between MSD and Hilleman Laboratories, a not-for-profit mission to develop affordable vaccines to prevent diseases that affect low-income countries, he said the first project was focussing on developing a heat stable rotovirus vaccine. With problems such as cold chain issues, it would be a phenomenal achievement when the product hits the market.

Besides alliances, the strategy for India included ensuring robust growth of current portfolio of products while launching new ones. Declining to give details, he said that products which would be valuable to the healthcare community in India were in the pipeline. Globally, 19 new drug molecules were in the pipeline, he added.

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