Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is expanding its presence in Asia by setting up a business venture in South Korea with Handok Pharmaceuticals Co.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Israeli drugmaker will contribute its global resources, with responsibilities for manufacturing "and supplying a wide range of affordable and innovative medicines". Handok will be responsible for sales and marketing, distribution and regulatory affairs.

Teva will have a controlling stake in the new venture, through which it gains entrance into the Korean pharmaceutical market, currently valued at $14 billion. Profits will be split 51%-49% in Teva's favour and the JV is expected to commence activities in the next few months, subject to regulatory approvals. Financial details are not being disclosed.

Itzhak Krinsky, head of business development in the Asia Pacific region, said "this is another significant step in our strategy to expand Teva’s presence in growing markets and excluding Japan, this is our first alliance in East Asia”. He added that combining his firm's know-how with Handok’s "expertise and strong reputation in Korea", the companies plan to assume a prominent position in that market.

Mr Krinsky went on to note that the JV's portfolio will include the multiple sclerosis blockbuster Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) and branded generics. Young-jin Kim, Handok’s chief executive, said the venture should "contribute greatly to the Korean pharmaceutical industry by supplying medicines at more affordable prices and providing innovative treatment solutions for CNS, respiratory and women’s health".

The Korea JV fits with the strategic plan Teva chief executive Jeremy Levin unveiled last week. This included extending the company's global presence, expanding its core franchises and reducing costs.