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Novartis buys Austria s EBEWE

GENEVA, May 20 – Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis said Wednesday that it would buy part of Austrian company EBEWE Pharma\’s injectable generic drugs business for 925 million euros (1.2 billion dollars).

Novartis said in a statement that the deal would allow its generic subsidiary Sandoz — which makes treatments on which patents no longer apply — to expand its production of injectable cancer treatments and take a stronger foothold in a growing market.

EBEWE and the Swiss drugs company have signed a definitive agreement for the acquisition which will not include EBEWE\’s neurological products business.

"The addition of EBEWE Pharma\’s leading portfolio of oncology medicines fits our strategy and improves our ability to help cancer patients around the world by providing easier access to therapies," Novartis chairman and chief executive Daniel Vasella said.

The Austrian company\’s sales in the sector reached 188 million euros, producing an operating profit of 53 million euros in its latest figures.

Sandoz will set up a new centre around the acquired business in Austria, which will be headed by EBEWE\’s chief executive Friedrich Hillebrand.

Annual sales of the global generic injectables sector reached an estimated 10-12 billion dollars in 2008, nearly one third of them oncology or cancer medicines, according to figures cited by Novartis.

The Swiss group is also looking at future business as injectable oncology medicines that account for nine billion dollars of sales are expected to lose patent protection by 2015.

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