ZURICH, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis aims to become a big player in supplying insulin to diabetics, signing a deal with China's Gan & Lee covering versions of three blockbuster brands just as the U.S. government is seeking to slash insulin costs.
Novartis said on Wednesday its Sandoz generics unit is targeting Sanofi's Lantus (glargine), with about $6 billion in annual sales, Novo Nordisk's NovoLog (aspart) with about $3.2 billion, and Eli Lilly's Humalog (lispro), whose sales are some $2.9 billion.
Sandoz will handle commercialising biosimilar, or near-copy, versions of these medicines in Europe, the United States, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Gan & Lee will develop and manufacture them, with help from Sandoz.
Gan & Lee, founded in 1998, focuses on insulin production and describes itself China's leading diabetes company. It already makes versions of Lantus and Humalog, according to its website.
Reporting by John Miller; editing by Jason Neely