UK drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has shelled out $70 million for Chinese drugmaker Nanjing MeiRui Pharmaceuticals to gain a stronger foothold in China.

The London, UK-based firm confirmed yesterday that it would acquire 90% of the company from Pagoda Pharmaceuticals and the remaining 10% from Allergon AB, under a strategy to further expand its presence in the country, considered to be “one of the fastest-growing and most significant of the emerging markets”.

Explaining its attraction to the firm, GSK said MeiRui is a leading Chinese pharmaceutical entity with a strong portfolio of urology and allergy products, such as Prostat for benign prostatic hyperplasia and Sheniting for overactive bladder syndrome.

Under the deal, the UK group will not only gain access to this portfolio of products, but also MeiRui’s established sales and marketing platform and a manufacturing facility in Nanjing City in the Jiangsu Province. The transaction is expected to complete by the end of 2010, subject to customary closing conditions.

Pharmaceutical companies have increasingly been turning their attention to emerging markets as they offer enormous opportunities for growth while the rest of the world remains stagnant, and GSK has long been working to channel into this potential and diversify its business to help offset the effect of patent expiries and the difficult economic climate.