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Watson buys Specifar in busy month of M&As for generics sector

By Gareth Macdonald , 31-May-2011

Watson Pharmaceuticals has bought Greek generics firm Specifar Pharmaceuticals, bringing to an end a busy month of deal making in the non-branded drug sector.

The deal, which values Specifar at €400m ($562m), gives Watson a presence in the $6bn Greek generic drug market and a 30-strong product portfolio that includes a non-branded version of AstraZeneca’s Nexium (esomeprazole).

Specifar, which also sells drugs in Greece under the Alet Pharmaceuticals brand, produces around 1 billion doses of generics at its facility near Athens. The firm is also building a new production unit on the outskirts of the city.

News of the acquisition follows just days after Canadian specialty pharma firm Valeant Pharmaceutical announced plans to buy Lithuanian non-branded drugmaker AB Sanitas for €314m.

Sanitas sells 390 generic pharmaceutical products across central and Eastern Europe, primarily in Lithuania, Russia and Poland, generating annual revenue of around €100m.

Valeant CEO J Michael Pearson said: "With 80% of the Sanitas portfolio consisting of non-reimbursed products with limited exposure to government pricing pressures, Valeant will be in a key position to continue our expansion into Central and Eastern Europe."

Last week Par Pharmaceutical said that it will pay $37.6m in cash for Chennai, India-headquartered non-branded drug manufacturer Edict Pharmaceuticals. Par will also repay some of Edict’s debts.

Edict has a portfolio of seven abbreviated new drug applications (ADNA) filed with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and 14 other non-branded generic pharmaceuticals in development.

Par president Paul Campanelli said that Edict's facility, in Chennai’s Kelambakkam suburb, adds significant operational capacity and provides business continuity protection for our Spring Valley, NY facility.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the world’s largest generics firm, was also in acquisition mode this month. On May 16 the Israeli firm announced that it will buy a 57 per cent stake in Japan’s non-branded drugmaker Taiyo Pharmaceutical Industries.

The deal will see Teva pay $460m for its share of Japan’s third largest generics firm, which generated revenue of $530m in 2010 and has a portfolio of 550 non-branded products.

Nagoya-based Taiyo has plants in Takayama, expertise in sterile production, and a contract manufacturing business. Teva CEO Shlomo Yanai said the deal is part of an effort to generate revenue of $1bn in Japan by 2015.

Canadian generics firm Pharmascience also had its eye on expansion in May, with the announcement of plans to buy Montreal-headquartered clinical-stage biotech developer Aegera Therapeutics

Pharmascience CEO David Goodman told the Canadian Press the deal “will enable Pharmascience to increase and diversify its research and development activities through the continuance of Aegera's programs.”

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