Claris' injectables business is said to be shopped to Pfizer, Amneal

Sterile injectable drugs are becoming a bigger piece of pharma sales, and companies with the ability and capacity to manufacture them are becoming popular targets. Mylan ($MYL) bought Strides Arcolab's sterile business in 2013, and Pfizer just announced a $15 billion deal for sterile injectable specialist Hospira ($HSP). The injectables business of Claris Lifesciences is now said to be drawing attention from potential buyers, something that has been suggested in the past.

Bridgewater, NJ, generics company Amneal is said to have made a first-round bid for the Claris operation, sources tell The Economic Times. They also named Pfizer ($PFE) as a bidder. Pfizer had a supply agreement with Claris that it canceled after a Claris plant ran into regulatory issues with the FDA. Indian companies that are interested include Lupin, Cipla and Zydus Cadila, sources said.

The company is controlled by the Handa family in India, but private equity group The Carlyle Group invested about $20 million into the company in 2006 and now holds a stake that is reported to be about 11%. Last year Claris put its injectables business into a wholly owned subsidiary that would make it easier to spin off.

Pfizer formed a marketing arrangement with Claris back in 2009 that gave it the rights in Western markets to 15 off-patent parenteral drugs Claris manufactured. But that relationship soured after the FDA banned Claris' sterile injectables plant in India from shipping to the U.S. in 2010 after reports that some of the company's products were contaminated with fungus. Pfizer was forced to recall some antibiotics and an antinausea product contracted out to Claris that were tied to the contamination issues. The plant's warning letter was closed out in 2012.

Pfizer said this month it was paying $15 billion for Hospira, which it intends to roll into its established products unit. Hospira has a number of plants in India, including a 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing plant in Vizag that it expects to go online soon. The Vizag operation will add about 500 million additional sterile injectable units per year, which the company says will dramatically lower Hospira's cost profile.

But Pfizer is not the only company that sees sterile injectables as a great business to be in. Mylan become one of the largest sterile manufacturing companies in the world when it bought Agila Specialties from India's Strides Arcolab for about $1.75 billion. Just last month, reports circulated that Mylan might be preparing a bid that could reach $7 billion to get Jordan-based Hikma Pharmaceuticals, in part for its growing injectables operations.

Whether a deal will get done for Claris remains to be seen. Rumors have circulated before that its injectables business was drawing interest. Two years ago, Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) were both mentioned as suitors.

- read the Economic Times story