UK drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has entered into a joint venture with Jiangsu Walvax Biotech Company to develop and manufacture paediatric vaccines for use in China, including the former’s MMR jab Priorix.

Under the agreement, GSK will transfer the technology for making its measles, mumps and rubella vaccine Priorix to Walvax to enable local production, and a new manufacturing plant will also be built so that the joint venture can eventually supply China’s public vaccine market.

A total of £41.2 million is being invested into collaboration, of which GSK is providing £20.1 million at incorporation and an additional £7.3 million in 2015, while Walvax is feeding a total of £13.8 million into the deal. In return, the UK group has bagged an equity share of 65% and its partner 35%, although this can be revised in future, the firms noted.

Explaining his group’s interest in the partnership, Jean Stephenne, President of GSK Biologicals, said the move to set up local production capacity with a leading vaccine manufacturer and developer comes in advance of “significant expansion in the Chinese public vaccine market”, particularly after the MMR jab was added to the country’s Expanded Programme on Immunization last year.

In addition, the joint venture will see GSK gain a much stronger foothold in China in line with its strategy of making the most of emerging markets, and follows an agreement signed with Chinese biotech company Shenzhen Neptunus Interlong Bio-Technique earlier this year to develop and manufacture flu vaccine.