UPDATE 1-Abbott, Biocon to develop nutrition products for India

Thu May 3, 2012 1:46am EDT

* To target women, children, diabetes patients

* R&D centre to start by June; have 50 scientists

* India's $1 bln nutrition market relatively nascent

May 3 (Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories has partnered Indian biotechnology company Biocon Ltd to develop nutrition products for India, as the U.S. drugmaker steps up its push to tap a potentially big market.

Abbott will build a research and development centre in Bangalore along with Syngene, a unit of Biocon, to develop affordable nutrition products for women, children and diabetes patients, the U.S. company said on Thursday.

The centre is expected to start operations in June and will have 50 scientists, the drugmaker said without disclosing details of investment.

"India is a priority market for investment, growth and innovation," Robert Miller, divisional vice president, global R&D, Abbott Nutrition, said in a statement.

Abbott is the largest drugmaker by market share in India after it acquired Piramal Healthcare's formulations business in 2010 for $3.72 billion.

The nutrition market in India, home to more than 1.3 billion people, is relatively nascent and valued at about $1 billion, according to the lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

A rapidly expanding middle-class, increasing incidences of diabetes and longer life spans are strong factors to drive demand for nutrition products.

"Our strategic collaboration with Syngene will accelerate the design, development and delivery of affordable nutrition products in India," Miller said.

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