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Pfizer To Acquire Generics Maker Hospira

Pharmaceuticals: $17 billion deal presages a possible break-up of the drug company

by Lisa M. Jarvis
February 6, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 6

After failing in its pursuit of AstraZeneca last year, Pfizer is using some of its hefty war chest to acquire Hospira, which specializes in generic injectable drugs and biosimilars. Valued at $17 billion, the deal strengthens Pfizer’s established products business in advance of a potential break-up of the company.

Lake Forest, Ill.-based Hospira has annual sales of about $4.4 billion, nearly 70% of which come from its sterile injectable drugs business. Pfizer says that business is a good match with its own off-patent branded injectables unit. Pfizer expects the generic injectables market to almost double to $70 billion by 2020, driven primarily by demand in emerging markets.

Hospira also brings a portfolio of biosimilars at a time when the regulatory path for bringing generic versions of monoclonal antibodies to market is finally clearing. Antibodies with annual sales totaling $100 billion are expected to lose patent protection in the next decade. Consequently, Pfizer believes the biosimilars market will leap from $3 billion this year to $20 billion in 2020.

The deal for Hospira—Pfizer’s largest since its 2009 purchase of Wyeth—comes less than a year after AstraZeneca rebuffed a $119 billion bid from Pfizer.

At the same time, Pfizer is considering splitting into three separate companies: innovative pharmaceuticals; generic drugs; and vaccines, oncology, and consumer health. Pfizer executives emphasized that the Hospira deal will not impact the potential split. “We think the integration of Hospira can be done without distracting the total organization,” Pfizer CEO Ian C. Read said on a conference call with reporters.

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