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Heparin consolidation: Hepalink to buy SPL for $337m

06-Jan-2014

Chinese API firm Shenzhen Hepalink has announced plans to buy Scientific Protein Laboratories (SPL) from private equity investor American Capital for $337.5m.

The deal is designed to build Hepalink’s presence in the global market place according to CEO Li Li, who said that by buying SPL his firm will “further enhance the stability and safety of the supply of the heparin product raw materials.”

This was echoed by SPL chief Robert Mills who said: “This will expand our ability to develop and grow both our domestic and international businesses and to continue to conduct cutting-edge research on new products. We do not anticipate any changes in how we currently do business.”

American Capital’s ownership of SPL – which began in 2006 when it bought the firm from fellow private equity group Arsenal Capital Partners – has coincided with a difficult few years for the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) maker.

In 2010 SPL was named in a US Government Accountability Office (GAO) as API supplier for heparin products made by US drugmaker Baxter that were the subject of a recall in 2008 after widespread reports of deaths and adverse reactions.

In the years since – during which analysis has linked the deaths to contamination of the API with cheaper oversulfated chondroitin sulfate (OCSC) – SPL has been hit with a number of personal injury lawsuits alleging that the source was the firm’s plant in China.

More recently, in June 2012 , Changzhou SPL Company, Ltd was one of 22 heparin suppliers named in a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) import alert as being in breach of current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) guidelines.

Nevertheless, these problems were not the driver for American Capital’s decision to sell SPL according to Mills, who told the Wisconsin Journal that the deal was part of an effort to grow the API maker.

My goal was to have us be part of another pharmaceutical company who understands what’s necessary ... to grow and move on.”

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