Why is Ratiopharm suddenly so popular?

Are low interest rates prompting the big interest in Ratiopharm? That's one explanation analysts have hit on in trying to explain Pfizer's newfound zeal at the prospect of buying the German generics maker--and Teva's, too. "[Cash] is making 0.5 percent interest in the bank," says Ronny Gal, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein. "Why not buy generics?"

The pharma world is closely watching the Ratiopharm auction, reported to be narrowed to three bidders: Pfizer, Teva and Iceland's Actavis. Analysts and others have been advancing various rationales for the sudden popularity of Ratiopharm, the second-largest generics company in Germany.

Pfizer might want it so that it can funnel its soon-to-be-off-patent drugs like Lipitor into Ratiopharm's global generics network. Teva might be enthused because of its goal to be among the top three generics makers in every country.  Right now, it's in the top three in every European country--except Germany. Maybe Pfizer is trying to "stick it to Teva," making sure that the Israeli generics giant doesn't get a bargain price.

Meanwhile, talk is already turning to which generics company is likely to be snapped up next, the New York Times reports. Might one of the losing Ratiopharm bidders try to buy out Stada, third in line for the German generics crown?

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