Fujifilm expands into biologics with $490M Merck buy

Japan's Fujifilm is beefing up its drug business with a deal to buy two of Merck's contract manufacturing facilities. Fujifilm has agreed to buy the Merck BioManufacturing Network and its biologics plants in North Carolina and Northeast England in an acquisition said to be worth $490 million.

The deal gets Merck out of the contract biologics business, although the company will continue to perform some development and manufacturing services for Fujifilm. For the Japanese company, it's yet another expansion into medicine and pharma, two businesses the company has targeted in an attempt to counteract rapidly waning demand for its photo film and paper business, Reuters reports.

"This acquisition provides an important addition to our pharmaceutical business with diverse capabilities and technical expertise in production of protein therapeutics," Fujifilm CEO Shigetaka Komori said in a statement. The company plans to triple healthcare sales over the next 10 years by building up vaccines and biologics operations.

It's somewhat ironic that companies in other industries see biopharma as a way to hedge losses in their primary businesses or to augment long-term growth--just as Big Pharma has been trying to hedge patent losses by buying biotech companies and diversifying into consumer healthcare, eye care, veterinary products and more.*

- check out the release from Fujifilm
- get more from Reuters
- read the Bloomberg article
- see the Wall Street Journal's take

* Editor's Note: Paragraph removed incorrectly identifying Samsung as a Japanese company.