GlaxoSmithKline signed an agreement with Simcere Pharmaceutical Group of Nanjing, China for it to manufacture and sell a cheaper version of its flu drug Relenza in poor countries.
The Chinese company can manufacture and sell zanamivir in China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and all least-developed countries, under the terms of licensing agreement.
"GSK is doing everything we can to prepare for a global influenza pandemic, including expanding production of Relenza and developing a pandemic vaccine," said David Stout, GSK's president of pharmaceutical operations.
"This agreement with Simcere is intended to expand available supplies of zanamivir in areas of the world that may be on the front line of a possible influenza pandemic," Stout added.
Relenza is an inhaled drug and is meant to be a first-line defense in the event of an influenza pandemic set off by bird flu. It is approved in many countries around the world.