Merck ties with Sinopharm to boost China presence

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Merck & Co MRK.N said on Tuesday it struck a deal with Sinopharm Group Co Ltd 1099.HK to market the U.S. drugmaker's cervical cancer vaccine and other vaccines in China, as the pharmaceutical industry seeks greater inroads in Asia.

The alliance, for which terms were not announced, is the first such deal Merck has struck to expand its China presence and includes the potential for marketing other Merck products.

Like rivals, Merck has made increasing its sales in emerging markets a cornerstone of its growth strategy. It has projected that more than 25 percent of its pharmaceutical and vaccine sales will come from emerging markets by 2013, up from 17 percent currently.

Merck told investors in May it already had a 3,000-strong sales force in China, an increase of 90 percent since 2007.

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf, editing by Maureen Bavdek