Piedmont Pharmaceuticals wants to serve China’s growing healthcare needs — but not the patient group that most drug companies are targeting.

As China’s population grows, so too does pet ownership. Piedmont is partnering with Chinese pharmaceutical firm Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceuticals to develop pharmaceuticals and companion animal health products for a Chinese pet population of 200 million that is expected to reach 500 million by 2014. The deal could also see the companies develop products for other global markets.

Greensboro-based Piedmont and Hisun did not disclose financial terms of the deal, nor did they describe the kinds of products that they will develop. But Piedmont has struck deals for its drug-delivery technology before.

Piedmont’s patent-pending technology makes administering medication to pets easier through a formulation that is soft, chewable and tasty — everything that conventional pills are not. Piedmont has licensed its soft-chew technology to United Kingdom-based Dechra Pharmaceuticals as well as the animal health division of German healthcare company Bayer. The company has said that its technology could be used to make all pet drugs that are currently administered as pills.

Piedmont has a stable of other animal health products. The company has also licensed a product to Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) Animal Health that controls fly populations around barns and stables.

Hisun has been a supplier of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY). The company opened its U.S. headquarters in New Jersey in 2010. In 2011, Hisun entered into a joint venture with Pfizer to develop human health products. Now, the company adds animal health to the mix. Hua Bai, CEO and chairman of Hisun Pharmaceuticals, said in a statement that the product development agreement with Piedmont is part of his company’s strategy to become a leading global supplier of animal health pharmaceuticals.

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