NEW YORK, JAN. 9 -- Sterling Drug Inc., a subsidiary of Rochester, N.Y.-based Eastman Kodak Co., said today it is forming an alliance with the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi S.A. that will result in joint ventures in some markets.

The ventures will deal with the development and marketing of drugs and consumer health products. The companies said the combined operations would rank among the top 20 pharmaceutical groups in the world, based on combined annual drug sales of about $2.3 billion.

Sterling Drug and Sanofi said that their research-and-development operations will remain independent of the joint ventures.

Combined spending on research and development will be about $500 million annually, the companies said in a prepared statement. But the alliance "does not contemplate a significant exchange of funds between the parties," the statement said.

Paris-based Sanofi, 60 percent owned by Elf Aquitaine, the state-owned French oil company, employs 33,000 and has total sales of about $3 billion. It is the second-largest pharmaceutical company in France and the ninth-largest in Europe.

Sterling employs about 15,000 people and markets pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medicines in more than 100 countries. Its consumer health products business includes such brands as Bayer aspirin and Phillips Milk of Magnesia.

Brenda Landry, a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co. in New York, called the deal "a no-lose situation": "It's really not costing anybody very much, it doubles the essential R&D effort and provides some critical mass."