Pfizer and the Russian pharmaceutical investment and R&D group ChemRar High Tech Center have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore a collaboration focused on developing innovative drugs.

The two companies plan to develop compounds and vaccines to treat patients with cardiometabolic, infectious and oncology diseases, "which are a high priority for the Russian Federation healthcare system". They will also collaborate with other potential partners, including the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the Skolkovo Foundation and other members of the Russian biopharmaceutical cluster, called Northern.

As part of the proposed deal, the firms may establish a "shared-risk platform for several Pfizer R&D programmes designed to achieve clinical candidates and proof of concept in the clinic".

David Simmons, head of emerging markets and established products at Pfizer, said "we see Russia as a potential leader in the innovative pharmaceutical, biotechnological and nano-technological areas". He added that "the Pharma 2020 Strategy driven by the Russian Government creates favourable conditions for transition of the Russian pharmaceutical industry to the innovative development model, and Pfizer is excited to be a part of these new opportunities".

ChemRar chairman Andrey Ivaschenko said that "considering the importance of international partnership to our government's vision for Russian business, the expertise of leading pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer is very important". He added that agreements such as this "are critical to developing the applied sciences and university research in Russia, within the global market environment".

Pfizer has been busy in Russia of late. In March, it linked up with Petrovax Pharm to manufacture the US giant's conjugate vaccine against pneumococcal infection in the Moscow region, and earlier this month, it launched a "capability building programme" with partners such as the St Petersburg State Chemical-Pharmaceutical Academy and the Russian biotechnology company Biocad.