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Amgen, the US biotechnology group, is to pay $700m for control of Mustafa Nevzat Pharmaceuticals, a Turkish generic drugs company, accelerating its shift into off-patent medicines and the emerging markets.
The deal will give Amgen a platform for its own medicines in the fast-growing region, as well as providing scope to diversify and expand its product range as it loses exclusivity over its existing top-selling medicines.
It comes at a time of growing potential for generic drugs in Turkey, as the government – responsible for 70 per cent of healthcare – attempts to save costs by promoting lower prices.
MN Pharmaceuticals, which is privately held and focuses on speciality generic drugs for hospital treatment and injectables, reported sales of $200m last year and “on average double digit growth” over the past five years.
The deal marks the reinforcement of a shift in strategy signalled by Amgen in 2010 and which it began to implementing last year, when it acquired Bergamo of Brazil for $215m. Sales had traditionally been concentrated in the US and on its own pipeline of products.
Robert Bradway, president and chief operating officer appointed last year, said: “Amgen is dedicated to making our innovative medicines available to patients in major markets around the world. Together with MN’s staff and management team, we plan to grow our business with high quality and innovative medicines in Turkey and the surrounding region.”
An Amgen spokeswoman stressed that the company’s core business strategy remained innovative medicines, and that it would initially continue to maintain a separate Turkish representative office of its own established two years ago.
The company has faced growing pressure on its biological drugs as European and US regulators prepare guidelines authorising “biosimilars”, or generic versions of their products, which have in the past largely escaped the competitive pressure faced after patent expiry on chemically-based drugs.
Cost-cutting measures taken by the Turkish government have kept the market relatively stagnant in recent years at about $10bn. But the share of generics, which account for just over 50 per cent of the market by volume, is widely expected to increase.
“Because of the cost pressures and the cost cutting initiative taken by the government we see pressures on all local manufacturers and multinationals in Turkey,” said Cem Baydar at IMS Consulting in Istanbul. “At the end of the day what we see is that generics will have increasing volume penetration in the market place in coming years.”
He added that he expected to see increasing numbers of companies moving into generics in Turkey, as Amgen is now planning.