J&J taps German Merck to market Invokana in China
- Johnson & Johnson's Xian Janssen Pharmaceuticals has inked a deal with Merck KGaA to launch its diabetes drug Invokana in China, where the drug gained approval in September 2017. Financial details of the deal were not released.
- The two companies will work together on future development, distribution and commercialization of Invokana in China. Germany-based Merck KGaA will hold the exclusive rights for Invokana's promotion in the country.
- Invokana is approved for type 2 diabetes in combination with metformin or metformin plus sulfonylurea in adults whose blood sugar isn't adequately controlled with these oral therapies.
Type 2 diabetes has become a widespread issue in China. In 1980, less than 1% of the population had diabetes. But by 2013, almost 11% of the population has been diagnosed with diabetes, and nearly 36% were pre-diabetic. With a current population of nearly 1.4 billion, diabetes is both a major health crisis in China as well as a huge market opportunity.
"Our mission is to transform 40 million patients' lives in China by 2025. Merck has been making continued efforts to expand its portfolio with the aim of providing ... better treatment options for millions of diabetic patients in China. The introduction of Invokana… reinforces our long-term commitment to China," said Rogier Janssens, managing director and general manager of Merck's biopharma business in China, in a July 12 statement.
J&J, meanwhile, has been building up data to back up Invokana (canagliflozin)'s role in reducing the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). The effort is directed, at least in part, to bolster the drug's market position against Eli Lilly & Co. and Boehringer Ingelheim's rival therapy Jardiance (empagliflozin), as well as to support its supplemental New Drug Application to the Food and Drug Administration.
Merck KGaA can help reach that end given its experience working in China.
The drugmaker has signed a number of recent deals in the Asian country, tying in with the company's 350th anniversary. Last month, it signed an agreement with Chinese internet healthcare company Alibaba Health, a collaboration aimed at using digital technologies to improve access to healthcare. The initial focus there will be on internet health and drug track and trace services. Future development will explore online healthcare service applications, direct-to-patient models and artificial intelligence-enabled healthcare applications.
Also last month, Merck KGaA's life science business set up a new CRISPR alliance, bringing Tongji University in Shanghai into the company's CRISPR Core Partnership Program. This supports research into challenging genetic diseases, using genome editing.
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