Lupin acquires Antara rights, bolsters position

Lupin acquires Antara rights, bolsters position

New delhi: India’s fifth largest drug maker by revenue Lupin Ltd has acquired the US rights for the cholesterol-lowering medication Antara from Oscient Pharmaceuticals, further strengthening its position in the branded products segment in the world’s biggest pharmaceuticals market.

Lupin acquired Antara, which has the generic name fenofibrate, and related assets for $38.61 million (Rs185.33 crore) on 25 September from the US company, which is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. The acquisition gives Lupin a product with sales of $85 million in the year ended June, up about 21% from $70 million in the previous year, according to pharmaceutical intelligence company IMS Health.

“We wanted to come up with the optimal portfolio in primary care and this is part of that target," said Vinita Gupta, group president and chief executive officer, Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inc. “From a valuation perspective this was a phenomenal deal. This is the second largest product in its category and has 4.5% market share in the US and we see strong growth potential for it."

Oscient, which licensed the rights to Antara from Ethypharm SA in 2006, also has a revenue sharing deal for the same product with Paul Capital Partners. While Lupin has no financial obligations under the acquisition to Paul Capital, Gupta said Lupin would have to pay some royalty to Ethypharm. The Antara purchase enables Lupin to enter the primary care market with a threeproduct portfolio, alongside antibiotic tablets Suprax and nasal spray Allernaze. The company will more than double its sales force in the next 12 months to reach key targets for the three products.

“We expect Antara to offset the impact of generic competition in Suprax. Besides, Oscient’s high gross margin implies the deal could be accretive from year one," said a Citigroup report. “While generic competition could be imminent, we believe even two-three years of exclusive/limited competition sales would ensure payback for the acquisition."

Lupin had also filed an abbreviated new drug application, or ANDA, (to market a generic version of a branded product in the US) for Fenofibrate, which it sold to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd on 21 September. “Since Antara is a previously approved, commercial product, our sales and marketing efforts will commence immediately and we are optimistic of it contributing positively to our top line and bottom line in coming quarters and years," Gupta said.

Lupin continues to hold talks for other opportunities to strengthen presence in branded area in the US. It is ranked ninth by prescriptions in the generics category and is growing at 92%. For the year ended March, Lupin’s revenues stood at Rs5,015 million and net profit at Rs39,145 million.