Sanofi-Aventis Creates Joint Venture In China

French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis formed a joint venture with Chinese drugmaker Minsheng Pharmaceutical focusing mostly on vitamins and mineral supplements.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis said Friday it has formed a joint venture with Chinese drugmaker Minsheng Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. focusing mostly on vitamins and mineral supplements.

The joint venture focuses on the largest consumer healthcare segment in China, where Minsheng sells the 21 Super-Vita multivitamin brand.

Sanofi-Aventis will hold a majority equity stake, though terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sanofi-Aventis and other U.S. and European drugmakers have expanded their research and manufacturing presence in Asia in recent years. Sanofi-Aventis operates three manufacturing sites in China and announced a research and development expansion there in 2008.

The Paris-based company is the world's top maker of vaccines and fifth-biggest prescription drugmaker by revenue, with blockbusters including blood thinners Plavix and Lovenox and Lantus insulin.

On Tuesday, Sanofi-Aventis said regulators cleared its $1.9 billion purchase of Gold Bond skin products maker Chattem Inc. The drugmaker had agreed to buy the Chattanooga, Tenn., company in December for $93.50 per share, gaining products like Icy Hot pain relief creams and Selsun Blue shampoo.

Shares of Sanofi-Aventis SA climbed climbed 70 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $37.11.

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