India's Lupin ready to spend $1B to bulk up in EU

Lupin CEO Vinita Gupta

Earlier this year, Indian generic drugmaker Lupin picked up a Netherlands-based manufacturing specialist to extend its reach in sterile injectable drugs within Europe. The company, however, is not done buying capacity and capabilities throughout the continent. Not by a long shot.

CEO Vinita Gupta tells Bloomberg the drugmaker is prepared to spend up to $1 billion on the right deal to build its capacity and capabilities in specialty areas like inhalation products, a market it estimates to be worth about $23 billion in sales. Lupin is establishing an inhalation drug R&D center in the U.S.

While the drugmaker has a significant presence in the U.S., where it makes drugs such as a copy of Eli Lily's ($LLY) antidepressant Cymbalta, Gupta said, "In Europe, we are really small. So we have a focus in looking at building a specialty presence as well as a generics presence." Lupin is now getting only about 3% of its revenue from Europe, Bloomberg reports.

While Lupin made 9 acquisitions in the past 8 years, the company is also interested in buying generics producers with access to emerging markets like Russia, Brazil and China, Gupta said. It also wants more capacity in sterile injectables as well as dermatology and biosimilars. In fact, part of the appeal of Europe is its clear pathway, compared to the U.S., for biosimilars: a market that is expected to become huge once it breaks out.

Biosimilars are copies of complex sterile injectables and toward that goal, in January Lupin snapped up Nanomi for an undisclosed sum. Gupta said at the time that Nanomi's proprietary technology platform would position Lupin to "make significant inroads into the niche area of complex injectables."

Some of Lupin's interest in sterile injectables may be self-preservation since some of its competitors have been shouldering their way into that market. In the course of a few weeks this January, Par Pharmaceuticals said it would spend $490 million to pick up JHP Pharmaceuticals, a specialist in manufacturing sterile injectable drugs, and India's Aurobindo agreed to buy 7 plants in Europe from Actavis ($ACT), in part to boost its sterile injectables operations. Last year, Mylan ($MYL) paid about $1.75 billion to buy the sterile injectables business from India's Strides Aroclab.

Just last month, Jordan-based Hikma agreed to pay up to $300 million for the generic injectables business that Boehringer Ingelheim sold under its Bedford Laboratories brand. It also has a deal to potentially buy the Ben Venue Laboratories plant in Bedford, OH, that Boehringer closed at the end of last year because of FDA issues. It is one of the largest sterile injectable manufacturing plants in the world.

- read the Bloomberg story