Shrewd Aspen bags new drug line

AFRICA’s biggest generic drug maker Aspen Pharmacare is to buy the marketing rights to AstraZeneca’s portfolio of anaesthetic drugs for up to $770m, the latest in a series of deals in which it has sought to gain traction in major markets and drive profits by lifting the performance of other companies’ niche brands.

Aspen’s share surged on Thursday by the most in more than 16 years on the news, gaining 10.3%, the most since April 2000, before closing 9.21% higher at R350.50.

In 2013, Aspen paid GlaxoSmithKline £700m for its thrombosis drugs and an associated manufacturing site in France, gaining entry into Russia.

The same year, it bought 11 brands and a manufacturing plant from Merck for $1bn, which it said at the time would boost its drive into Latin America, Asia-Pacific and eastern Europe.

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