Wockhardt in talks with Watson

Mumbai: Indian drug-maker Wockhardt is in advanced talks with the US generic drug manufacturer Watson Pharmaceuticals to market Wockhardt's generics and new drug delivery systems (NDDS) in the American market. The talks may be concluded by the end of this month.

Sources close to the development said once the talks achieve fruition, Wockhardt and Watson will float a new marketing joint venture company that would market around four to five Wockhardt products in the US market. Wockhardt is also exploring possibilities for a possible research and development support from Watson.

But Wockhardt officials declined to comment on this progress. They, however, said: "We are in talks with three to four companies to market our generic and NDDS products in the US. The talks have reached a very advanced stage, but we cannot reveal the names of the firms." The sources said once they "reach a final marketing joint venture agreement with these companies, each of them would market four to five Wockhardt products in the US market."

They said in this new marketing deal Wockhardt can address the post-joint venture issues effectively. "In a joint venture business, differences of opinion and other related problems may arise with JV partners. So, in this new system if issues arise with one particular company, one can avoid scouting for a new partner to market the products each time, as three more joint ventures still exist."

About 10 months ago, Wockhardt had terminated its two-year-old marketing agreement with Sidmak Laboratories, another US-based generic major. It had cited low performance of the products (Ranitidine and Enanapril Maleate) launched through the Sidmak alliance as the reason behind the move. The company had also alleged that Sidmak had started deleting products from the list of 15 formulations (ready-to-take medications), which it was supposed to market in America.

 With a growing number of companies selling generic or non-brand drugs in the US, Wockhardt needs to quickly find a new partner, industry analysts say. "But the US generics market has proved to be a difficult turf for Indian companies to break into. Besides Wockhardt, other Indian pharma companies like Ranbaxy and Dr Reddy's had also terminated their marketing JV in the US in 2001."