Bristol-Myers deepens its ties to Biocon's CRO and Indian R&D

As many drugmakers scale down their R&D presences in India, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) is strengthening its relationship with the country's Syngene, the CRO arm of local giant Biocon.

The two signed a 5-year extension of their existing partnership on drug discovery and development, bolstering a 7-year collaboration that has helped BMS churn out 6 drug candidates and cut the time and cost of getting preclinical assets into human study, the drugmaker said. The two said the new deal will span from early-stage work to confirmatory studies and make use of the pair's joint operation, the Biocon Bristol-Myers Squibb Research Center in Bangalore.

Neither company is disclosing financial details, but Biocon Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw told CNBC that the deal is worth more than $100 million.

Syngene touts itself as the largest CRO in India, growing 36% in fiscal 2013 to reap about $102.7 million.

Meanwhile, the pace of clinical research in the country has drastically slowed thanks to regulatory uncertainty surrounding India's recent crackdown on laxly regulated clinical trials. Syngene, however, believes it can weather any market shifts thanks to its well-established industry relationships, which includes tie-ups with Novartis ($NVS), Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) and Endo ($ENDP). And Bristol's decision to re-up falls right in line, Director Peter Bains said.

"This extension reflects the strength of our existing collaboration which has delivered many successful outcomes," Bains said in a statement. "The scope of Syngene's engagement has expanded to encompass a broad range of integrated service offerings across the drug discovery and development continuum."

Separately, Biocon is again plotting an IPO for its CRO division, now targeting 2015. The Indian biotech said the same thing back in 2012, but plans for a float gradually subsided.

- read the announcement
- here's the CNBC story

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