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Aspen Pharmacare shifts the needle to injectibles

Drugmaker buys remaining AstraZeneca anaesthetic rights.

South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare expanded its anaesthetic drugs portfolio with a $766 million deal with AstraZeneca as it focuses on injectibles rather than making tablets.

Aspen, a drugmaker with operations in 50 countries, has looked to injectibles such as anaesthetics to increase sales, building up its business in the past year with the commercial rights to AstraZeneca drugs and products from GlaxoSmithKline.

The deal with AstraZeneca covers the intellectual property and manufacturing rights to a portfolio of anaesthetics a year after Aspen bought the commercial rights in all parts of the world excluding the United States.

The move is part of a broader push into injectible drugs (also called steriles) which now represents 58% of Aspen’s manufacturing, compared to 12% four years ago.

“Injectibles could get up to 75% of our manufacturing by 2022,” deputy chief executive Gus Attridge told Reuters.

The price comprises an upfront $555 million and performance related payments of up to $211 million, Aspen said.

“By acquiring the underlying intellectual property (Aspen) is best placed to maximise the value of this portfolio, including through the development of additional products and markets, leveraging the intellectual property that it will own,” it said.

Aspen expects the transaction will be complete during the final quarter of 2017 and estimates it could contribute $90 million per year to profit, Attridge said.

The company also paid $370 million for GlaxoSmithKline’s anaesthetics drugs in February.

The company said profits, up 46%, were helped by a R7 billion ($532 million) revenue contribution from its anaesthetics portfolio in the year to the end of June. Total revenue was up 16% to R41.2 billion.

The drugmaker posted headline earnings per share of 1 299.5 cents for the year, up from 889 cents a year earlier.

Headline earnings per share strips out certain one-off items and is the main profit measure in South Africa.

Profits were also supported by firmer sales in Aspen’s home market during the second half of the year.

“In South Africa, a strong turnaround in the second half lifted the full year private sector performance by 9%, while the public sector edged up 1% to R1.5 billion,” the company said.

Shares in Aspen were up 1.5% at R289.23 by 0750 GMT, compared with a 0.5% drop in the Johannesburg securities exchange’s benchmark Top-40 index. 

Aspen share performance

($1 = R13.1472)

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