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Amgen buys Turkish pharma company for $700m

Mustafa Nevzat acquisition is third purchase in recent months for US firm

Amgen has reached an agreement to buy Turkish pharma company Mustafa Nevzat for $700m in a move that boosts its presence in the Middle East, North Africa and central and eastern European markets. 

The announcement was made shortly after Amgen reported its first quarter financial results, which showed a healthy 5 per cent increase in net profit to $1.18bn on sales up 9 per cent to $4.05bn, ahead of analyst expectations.

It is the third major acquisition for the biotech company in recent months, coming in the wake of its $1.16bn purchase of oncology specialist Micromet and an agreement to buy Kai Pharmaceuticals for $315m earlier this month.

Mustafa Nevzat specialises in generic drugs, including injectable cancer treatments, and was the first Turkish drugmaker to launch a product in the US. It had sales of around $200m last year and has been growing at a double-digit rate over the last five years, said Amgen.

The company employs 1,200 staff, with eight production units split equally between active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and finished dosage form manufacturing, and exports products as far afield as Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Amgen already markets two products in Turkey, having established an affiliate there in 2010, and said the deal would help it to "develop its robust pipeline of clinical candidates for the benefit of patients in Turkey as well as other markets around the world".

Amgen's chief executive-in-waiting Robert Broadway - who takes over the role from Kevin Sharer next month - said on the firm's first-quarter results conference call that international expansion is a key strategy for the group.

Meanwhile, the company showed sales growth almost across the board for its products in the first quarter, with rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel (etanercept) up 7 per cent to $938m, and combined sales of white blood cell boosters Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) and Neupogen (filgrastim) up 9 per cent to $1.34bn.

As expected, red blood cell stimulators Epogen and Aranesp continued to decline as a result of safety concerns, falling 14 per cent to $964m, but Amgen said it was encouraged by the growth of two new products, Prolia for osteoporosis and Xgeva for preventing bone-related complications in cancer patients.

Combined sales of the two drugs, both of which are based on the antibody denosumab, more than tripled compared to a year earlier to reach $241m.

"We delivered strong sales and earnings during the first quarter, reflecting broad strength across the portfolio," said Sharer.

Amgen has also paid tribute to its founder and former CEO George Rathmann, who died this week. "George Rathmann was a biotechnology giant and we were privileged to have him as our first CEO," said Sharer. "George's vision and values are as alive today at Amgen as they were when he led the company." He added. Rathmann served as CEO from 1980 to 1988, and as chairman until 1990.

25th April 2012

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