AstraZeneca sticks to R&D partnership track in China

As global pharmas race to grab a piece of the growing Chinese drug market, London-based drug giant AstraZeneca ($AZN) appears to be sticking to an R&D strategy that emphasizes partnerships with local stakeholders over buyouts to gain traction in the country, China Daily reports.

AstraZeneca, which committed $100 million for its work in China five years ago, joined forces with Peking University in 2010 in a 5-year research pact focusing on metabolic and cardiovascular therapies, according to the newspaper. And the company is banking on the talents of local partners and its own brainpower to generate breakthroughs for patients in China, where the government plans to pump billions into the biopharma sector to spur further growth in its life sciences sector.

"In China, our collaboration strategy is to forge partnership with leading academic and medical institutions that already have in-depth expertise in Asia-specific diseases. These partnerships are helping us solidify our presence in China... access the best science across the region... and ultimately bring the most value to patients," Steve Yang, AstraZeneca's vice president and R&D head for Asia and emerging markets, told China Daily.

The company isn't alone. Pfizer ($PFE) is also making inroads with Chinese academics, forging a partnership with Fudan University in Shanghai to nurture clinical research talent. Other drugmakers have made buyouts part of their missions in China. Novartis ($NVS) scooped up a piece of vaccine maker Tianyuan Bio-Pharmaceutical of Zhejiang this year and Sanofi ($SNY) gobbled up Hebei-based BMP Sunstone in a $521 million deal, the newspaper reported.

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