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Fresenius pushes further into generics

by Rick Mullin
June 27, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 18

Credit: Fresenius
In addition to producing generic drugs, Fresenius operates hospitals and dialysis centers.
Image of flags flying in front of a building.
Credit: Fresenius
In addition to producing generic drugs, Fresenius operates hospitals and dialysis centers.

Fresenius, a diversified life sciences company based in Bad Homburg, Germany, plans to diversify further via two acquisitions. The company says it will acquire Akorn, a Lake Forest, Ill.-based developer and manufacturer of generic drugs, and the biosimilars business of Merck KGaA.

The company will pay $4.3 billion for Akorn, which manufactures animal health and over-the-counter consumer health products in addition to generic prescription drugs. Akorn, which logged sales of about $1 billion last year, employs 2,000 people. It operates three research facilities and five manufacturing plants in the U.S., Switzerland, and India.

Separately, Fresenius will pay $185 million up front for the Merck business, which includes a development pipeline focused on generic versions of biopharmaceuticals to treat cancer and autoimmune disease, therapeutic areas with a $39 billion annual market for branded drugs, Fresenius notes. The deal could include milestone payments of $545 million plus royalties.

Fresenius CEO Mats Henriksson says the Akorn acquisition will serve to diversify the company’s activities in the U.S., which include Fresenius Medical Care North America, a dialysis services business. The purchase also expands the company’s generic drugs lineup. “Akorn brings to Fresenius specialized expertise in development, manufacturing, and marketing of dosage forms currently not available in our portfolio,” he says.

The deal for Merck’s biosimilars creates a “new platform for growth” in the company’s injectable pharmaceuticals business.

For its part, Merck elected to sell the business to focus on branded biopharmaceutical development. “We have increasing confidence in our biopharma pipeline, and this transaction will help prioritize innovative drug development of high-quality and first-to-market, best-in-disease assets,” board member Belén Garijo says.


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