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Chinese pharma firm to open U.S. operation in Montgomery County

Tasly Group, one of China’s leading biopharmaceutical companies, will invest $40 million in a new U.S. operation in Montgomery County, marking the largest investment in Maryland by a Chinese company.

The announcement came Thursday during Gov. Martin O’Malley’s economic development trip to Asia.

The company said in a release that it plans to open a 430,000-square-foot production facility and training center for traditional Chinese medicine in the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center. The complex is expected to create dozens of jobs over the next three years.

Tasly Group officials said they selected Maryland to leverage the vast bioscience resources nearby as they prepare for phase III clinical trials of their traditional Chinese medicine product, “Compound Danshen Dripping Pills.” The pills are developed to treat and prevent coronary disease.

In making the announcement at Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, also known as China’s “Pharma Valley,” O’Malley was joined by Tasly Chairman Dr. Yan Xijun.

“We were looking for a place with the best talent, research and development infrastructure and geographic location in the U.S., and Maryland, with its rich scientific community and world-class universities, is the perfect fit for us,” Yan said.

As part of its long-range goals, Tasly said it plans to build a world-class bio-pharmaceutical base, unite top international biomedical experts, develop and produce biomedicine and provide products for U.S. and European markets at its Maryland facility.

Tasly’s goal is to make the pills the first traditional Chinese medicine product to launch as a Food and Drug Administration-approved pharmaceutical in the American market. The pills could be available on shelves as early as 2014 if the phase III trials are successful.

In addition, two emerging Chinese companies — Sunscape, a producer and supplier of new building materials, and CellPath China, a life sciences company — announced plans to set up U.S. operations in the Maryland International Incubator.

Anji DaSol Solar Energy Science & Technology Co. Ltd., a solar energy company, will renew its contract with the incubator.

“Maryland’s diverse economy is well represented in these academic and business relationships,” said O’Malley. “These agreements underscore the great potential for Maryland companies, colleges and universities in China, as well as the exceptional opportunities for Chinese companies in our state.”

Other deals between Maryland and Chinese businesses were announced Thursday, totaling up to more than $5 million worth of partnerships.

Martek Bioscience Corp. in Columbia renewed its contract with Fortune Global 500 Company COFCO Ltd. for use of Martek’s signature product, life’sDHA, in cooking oils.

RTKL Associates Inc. in Baltimore also struck a deal to provide design consulting services to Beijing United Family Hospital.

Towson University will provide a faculty training program and school management services for Pudong New Area Education Bureau, and Baltimore-based Wall Street Institute School of English will initiate an English language training program for the Shanghai Police Academy.