Bristol-Myers Squibb has granted rights to China's Simcere Pharmaceutical Group to develop a pre-clinical cancer drug in its home territory.

The deal, described as "a unique arrangement", will see Simcere receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialise BMS-817378, a small molecule MET/VEGFR-2 inhibitor, in China while B-MS retains exclusive rights in all other markets. The partners will together determine the strategic development plan, which will initially be performed by the Nanjing-headquartered company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

B-MS said the deal "represents a creative approach to accelerate a preclinical oncology compound to clinical proof-of-concept by leveraging the complementary strengths of a premier Chinese pharmaceutical company and a global pharmaceutical company". Francis Cuss, the drug major's senior vice president of research, said “we are committed to working with companies in China in a creative and innovative fashion. This new partnership represents just such an example”.

Peng Wang, chief scientific officer at Simcere, said "this ground-breaking partnership demonstrates how a leading R&D-based Chinese company can work together with a global pharmaceutical company to accelerate a drug development timeline and conduct first-in-human studies in China". He added that this approach "allows the partnership to leverage our well-recognised clinical and regulatory capabilities and our access to the vast patient pool in China".