GlaxoSmithKline’s drive to diversify its business and become a stronger force in emerging markets around the globe has stepped up a gear after the drugmaker signed a deal with India’s Dr Reddy’s to develop and market the latter’s products in a number of countries.

The move gives the UK drug giant exclusive access to Dr Reddy’s “rich and diverse” portfolio and future pipeline comprising more than 100 branded pharmaceuticals across therapeutic areas such as diabetes, cancer and pain management, and marks “another significant step forward in our strategy to grow and diversify GSK’s business in emerging markets”, according to Abbas Hussain, President Emerging Markets at GSK.

Under the terms of the deal, financial details of which were not disclosed, Dr Reddy’s will manufacture products licensed and supplied by GSK in countries such as Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America, but not India. All sales will be booked by the UK group and shared with its Indian partner.

Explaining the rationale behind the partnership, Hussain said the new alliance “will combine Dr. Reddy’s portfolio of quality branded pharmaceuticals together with GSK’s extensive sales and marketing capabilities,” enabling the groups to deliver “more medicines of value to more patients in these countries.”

The deal is the latest in a stream of agreements designed to give GSK a stronger foothold in emerging markets, where the company feels there is significant potential as the demand for branded pharmaceuticals will climb in response to growth in populations and “economic prosperity”. Just last week the drugmaker said it had signed a deal with Shenzhen Neptunus to manufacture influenza vaccines for the Chinese market. Last month it bought a 15% stake in South African group Aspen Pharmacare Holdings, in January it acquired UCB’s product portfolio in a number of Asian Pacific, African and Latin American countries as well as the Middle East, and last year it pocketed the Egyptian mature products business from Bristol-Myers Squibb and its operations in Pakistan, showing a strong commitment to the strategy.

Synta and GSK part ways
Meanwhile, Synta Pharmaceutical yesterday announced the dissolution of its partnership with GSK centred on the development and commercialisation of elesclomol, after the latter decided to cut its ties with the drug following a disappointing performance in clinical trials in patients with melanoma.

Studies were called to a halt in February this year after more patients died in the group given the drug plus paclitaxel than in the control arm (paclitaxel alone), although Synta notes that the imbalance in deaths observed between the two arms to date “cannot be explained by organ-specific toxicities attributable to elesclomol”, and that “more mature survival data will be needed to understand the safety profile more fully”.

All rights have now reverted back to Synta, but the group said it might pay GSK a low single-digit royalty on any future sales of the drug.