April 21, 2009 / 4:06 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Sanofi to invest $90 mln in Lantus in China

BEIJING, April 21 (Reuters) - Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA), the world’s fourth-biggest drug maker, will invest $90 million to boost output of the insulin Lantus in China, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Local production of Lantus will begin by 2012, it said.

The new investment follows a $94 million investment that Sanofi made in 2007 to build a manufacturing facility for products that prevent seasonal influenza.

Sanofi said that, taken together, the two investments make it the biggest investor in China’s biological field.

A growing number of pharmaceutical companies are building research and development centres in China to take advantage of the country’s cheaper costs and to secure a foothold in its health care industry, which is seen as having huge potential.

The deal comes just days after Sanofi agreed to buy private U.S. cancer specialist BiPar Sciences Inc. for up to $500 million, part of a strategy to bolster Sanofi’s business through partnerships and small to mid-sized takeovers as patent protections on several of its main drugs are set to expire.

Sanofi has recently struck deals to increase its presence in Latin America, buying generic drug makers in Mexico and Brazil. (Reporting by Kirby Chien; Editing by Ken Wills)

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