By Seema Singh
Big Pharma is looking for immunity from a fall in revenues as blockbuster drugs go off patent. They are finding it in Indian vaccine makers.
The year was 2009. The company that was up for grabs was Shantha Biotech. And advances came from three big pharmaceutical companies. Eventually, France’s Sanofi-Aventis acquired the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker for $784 million. Now, once again the industry is buzzing with the news of Biological Evans (BE), another vaccine maker, being tipped as a takeover candidate. The most likely suitor this time is GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Both companies, however, remain non-committal: BE neither confirms nor denies the reports; GSK says it continues to evaluate potential acquisitions in emerging markets but is unable to comment “on any potential future business development opportunities”. GSK’s global vaccine business grew 24 percent compared to the 11.4 percent growth in its core pharmaceutical business in the last quarter. The only vaccine facility it has in India is a filling and packaging site in Nashik.
GSK is always looking for a strategic fit, says its India Managing Director Hasit Joshipura. “Any Indian company [that we may acquire] will only add back-end infrastructure facility to GSK. Since we [multinational companies] are the innovator companies, there’s no front-end [value addition] if such a deal ever happens.”
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