Two of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the United States and India have announced a product development deal worth more than £50 million.
The move will see Merck & Co, of New Jersey, USA, and Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd of Gurgaon, India, join forces to develop new anti-infective medications.
The companies will work together for five years to discover promising anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds.
Ranbaxy will do the testing from laboratory experiments through the first two phases of human testing, while Merck will handle the more complex and expensive final-stage human testing.
Merck’s research is currently focused on nine priority areas – including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease – with anti-infectives only a secondary research area.
Merck currently has one anti-fungal drug on the market, Cancidas, but is one of the top makers of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases.
Ranbaxy is India’s biggest pharmaceutical company and claims to be the tenth biggest generic drugmaker in the world, with products including generic versions of numerous antibiotics and of Merck’s former blockbuster cholesterol drug, Zocor.
“We believe that our philosophy of partnering with Big Pharma will continue to gather momentum as companies continue to recognise the strength and breadth of our expertise and resources,” said Ranbaxy’s chief executive, Malvinder Mohan Singh.