Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi, has entered into a long-term strategic cooperation with SK Chemicals to jointly develop a new pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of PCVs in all countries and the deal will allow Sanofi Pasteur to access the global PCV market of $4bn.

As part of the deal, which includes research & development (R&D), production and commercialisation of a preventative pneumococcal disease vaccine, Sanofi will make an up-front payment of $23m to SK Chemicals.

Both of the firms will co-invest in the development of the PCV vaccine project and, if successful, SK Chemicals will produce the new vaccine at its production facility located in An-dong, South Korea.

Once registered, the product will be launched globally by Sanofi Pasteur with shared profits outside of South Korea, where SK would commercialise it with exclusive rights.

Sanofi Pasteur CEO Olivier Charmeil said the company is committed to driving the open innovation strategy in improving global public-health concerns, and to this end, this collaboration with SK Chemicals will showcase a win-win partnership built on mutual strengths and expertise of each company.

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"Diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) constitute a major, global public-health problem."

"With this agreement, Sanofi Pasteur will enlarge its unique portfolio of products, embracing the value of open innovation," Charmeil said.

According to the WHO, diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) including pneumonia, meningitis and febrile bacteraemia, constitute a major, global public-health problem.

Otitis media, sinusitis and bronchitis are more common but less serious manifestations of infection, WHO said.

Recently, SK Chemicals had introduced its multi-product production facility, which is currently producing various vaccines for clinical trials.

Following completion of the testing, the new facility will start producing vaccines at large scale using next-generation technologies.

SK Chemicals CEO In-Serk Lee said, "We are proud to partner with Sanofi Pasteur, one of the global leaders of the vaccine industry, to be able to develop and manufacture in Korea a premium vaccine that has the potential to be distributed worldwide."