Amgen beefs up in Brazil with $215M deal

Amgen ($AMGN) has jumped into the Brazilian market. The U.S. company bought Bergamo, a privately held drugmaker that markets oncology drugs and other products to Brazilian hospitals, for $215 million. Meanwhile, Amgen bought back the Brazilian rights to several of its drugs, giving Bergamo even more treatments to sell.

Bergamo not only boasts a network of hospital customers, but also manufacturing facilities near the Brazilian capital of Sao Paulo, Amgen said in a statement. Its 2010 sales amounted to $80 million, after several years of growth at a 19 percent clip. Adding to Bergamo's stable of products, Amgen has reacquired rights to the cancer drug Vectibix and the thyroid remedy Mimpara, which are already marketed in Brazil. A third, the blood-disorder treatment romiplostim, is sold as Nplate in the U.S. but is awaiting approval in Brazil.

These two deals offer Amgen a "significant presence" in Brazil and give the company "immediate, direct access to one of the fastest-growing pharmaceuticals markets in the world," the company said in a statement. Brazil's drug sales have been growing at about 12 percent per year, and it's expected to move into the top five pharma markets by 2015. "Acquiring Bergamo, a profitable company with an established local infrastructure, and regaining the rights to our products in Brazil, provides us an attractive entry into the Brazilian market," Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer said. 

With these Brazilian deals, Amgen joins some Big Pharma competitors in painting a larger target on that market. Sanofi-Aventis snapped up Medley, a domestic generics maker, back in 2009, making Sanofi the biggest producer of generics in Brazil. Last fall, Pfizer bought 40 percent of Brazil's Laboratorio Teuto Brasileiro, another generics maker, for $240 million.

- see the Amgen release