Abbott Laboratories is linking up with Zydus Cadila to sell a number of products in emerging markets and has set up a division designed to promote its established treatments in countries outside the USA.

First up, Abbott has announced a licensing and supply agreement with Zydus which involves “at least 24 products” from the Indian drugmaker that the US major will sell in 15 “key emerging markets”. The pact, for which financial details have not been disclosed, includes medicines for pain, cancer and cardiovascular, neurological and respiratory diseases and launches will begin in early 2012. There is also a clause that allows for the addition of more than 40 other Zydus products.

At the same time, Abbott has set up an Established Products Division, with a particular focus on accelerating growth in emerging markets, where some 20% of its pharma sales currently come from. The company says that throughout the past decade, especially since its 2001 acquisition of Knoll Pharmaceuticals, it has built “a leading portfolio of branded generics”.

In 2007, the company established a separate business unit within its international pharmaceutical operations dedicated to these older products and created a division focusing on Russia, India and China “which resulted in the doubling of Abbott's growth rate in those countries”. The firm’s recent purchase of Solvay Pharmaceuticals also added “a diverse branded generics portfolio and…significant critical mass in key emerging markets”.

The EPD will be led by Michael Warmuth, who most recently headed Abbott's diagnostics division, and the unit’s sales are presently worth about $5 billion, Every big pharma firm is now focusing on the emerging markets and Abbott says that “branded generics represent the most significant growth opportunity” in that particular sector.