Cipla set to buy American business of Hetero Drugs for $550 million

MUMBAI: India's third-largest drug maker Cipla is buying the American business of Hyderabad-based Hetero Drugs as it seeks to expand its fledgling presence in the world's biggest pharma market. People close to the transaction said Cipla will buy Invagen and Camber, Hetero's wholly owned subsidiary, for about $550 million, a multiple of the company's total revenues of $150-200 million.

A spokesperson for Hetero declined to comment on the transaction while Cipla said it does not comment on any product or partner discussions. "As a pharmaceutical company, we are constantly in discussions with multiple parties on potential collaboration opportunities — in line with our aspiration to drive access and ensure availability of high-quality, affordable medicines."

Cipla's efforts to expand its beachhead in the US suffered a setback recently after it lost out to Lannett in the race to buy Kremers Urban, the generics business of Belgian drugmaker UCB.

Cipla's Indian rivals have a substantial presence in the US and the Mumbai-based company, founded by the feisty Dr YK Hamied, did not want to lose out on opportunities. Talks have been going on with Hetero for nearly a year, a person close to the situation said.

With the Invagen and Camber purchase, Cipla will also get access to a manufacturing facility and approvals to treat a variety of illnesses — from HIV, hypertension and heart diseases to depression drugs such as acyclovir, amlodipine, escitalopram. Hetero received a boost recently when it secured the approval to make aripiprazole, a blockbuster drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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