Eli Lilly, the global pharmaceuticals giant behind blockbuster drugs including the anti-depressant Prozac, is turning to ancient Chinese remedies for a new pipeline of treatments.
Hutchison China Meditech (Chi-Med), the AIM-listed subsidiary of Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, will announce today that it has struck a drug discovery and development partnership with Eli Lilly, which is based in New York.
The tie-up will see Hutchison Medipharma, Chi-Med's research and development arm, paid up to $29m in so-called "milestone fees" for each drug candidate developed from the company's vast collection of herbal compounds. Chi-Med will also gain an undisclosed up-front payment and annual research and development fees from its US partner.
Dr William Chin, vice-president of discovery research and clinical investigation for Eli Lilly, said: "We are excited to explore this innovative research collaboration model."
The agreement will initially focus on developing treatments in the areas of oncology and inflammation, with Chi-Med responsible for identifying candidates for clinical trial and Eli Lilly providing technical advice and subsequent development activities. For Chi-Med, the partnership may provide a much-needed boost to its beleaguered share price and help improve the image of Chinese medicines in the West.