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Outsourcing

Recipharm to acquire Consort Medical

Deal will create another pharmaceutical service behemoth

by Rick Mullin
November 18, 2019

20191118lnp3-aesica.jpg
Credit: Consort Medical
The view inside an Aesica facility in Queenborough, England

Recipharm, a pharmaceutical service firm based in Stockholm, announced on Nov. 18 that it will acquire Consort Medical, a British supplier of drug-delivery devices and manufacturing services, for about $650 million.

The deal marks further consolidation among drug contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs), a sector that in recent years has seen the rise of large players offering an end-to-end range of research and production services. Recipharm claims the acquisition will give it annual sales of more than $1 billion and put it among the top five CDMOs.

The acquisition follows a period of aggressive dealmaking by both firms. Consort added active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and finished drug services to Bespak, its drug-delivery device business, in 2014 with the $370 million purchase of Aesica, a UK-based CDMO that helped pioneer the purchase of large plants from major drug companies.

Recipharm also picked up big pharma assets in a slew of acquisitions dating back to its purchase of an AstraZeneca sterile drug-manufacturing plant in 2007. Last year the firm acquired Sanofi’s inhalation business for $59 million.

The merged companies “will be able to provide finished-dose forms in Bespak’s key technologies and provide customers with a far more integrated approach,” Recipharm CEO Thomas Eldered says in a statement. “The Aesica business will further expand our capabilities and capacities in both API and finished-dose manufacturing whilst providing access to a new customer base.”

Recipharm, which employs 7,000, says there is no agreement regarding how many of Consort’s approximately 2,000 employees, more than half in the UK, will transfer to Recipharm.

When Consort acquired Aesica five years ago, some industry watchers were perplexed by the combination of an API maker with a drug-delivery firm. Yet deals announced since then by large companies such as Catalent, Lonza, and Thermo Fisher Scientific validated the strategy of bringing together disparate services for drugmakers.

James Bruno, president of the consulting firm Chemical and Pharmaceutical Solutions, says the deal will give Recipharm technology complementary to its business in inhaled therapies, pointing to Consort’s Unidose single-dose inhalant device. Although he has questioned the logic of other large CDMO deals, Bruno foresees clear sailing on this one.

“It doesn’t look like they grossly overpaid for the company,” he says. “There is a little overlap, but I think this may be one of the smarter ones.”

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