Merck Serono anticipates adding up to 20 new general medicines to its portfolio in emerging markets through a long-term strategic partnership launched with Lupin, the companies said today.

The value of the deal was not disclosed, though India’s The Economic Times newspaper reported the partnership would generate as much as $1.5 billion for Mumbai-based Lupin, citing unnamed “sources close to the deal” before it was announced.

Merck Serono said it will expand its overall portfolio in core therapeutic areas of its General Medicine and Endocrinology franchise in selected countries in Latin America, Asia, Central Eastern Europe, and Africa. Countries included in the partnership—focused on drugs for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes—include Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

In Africa, medicines will also be supplied for additional therapeutic areas, reflecting local healthcare needs such as availability of antibiotics, the company said.

The first launches are expected in 2016.

“The collaboration will significantly strengthen our portfolio and Merck Serono’s position as one of the major players in emerging markets, aiming to provide patients in these regions with better access to health,” Elcin Ergun, Merck Serono’s head of global commercial, said in a statement.

Lupin will develop products, provide product dossiers and supply finished products to Merck Serono—which will be the marketing authorization holder for the products. Merck Serono said it will leverage its commercial and medical teams to bring the drugs into emerging markets. 

The companies said their new agreement built on an established working relationship between them. The accord also builds on a significant revenue source for Merck Serono, sales of drugs in emerging markets. Last year the company generated €1.8 billion (about $2.3 billion) in such sales—but that included sales of Neurobion and Floratil, which the company transferred to its consumer health unit as of January 1, 2014.

Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA. The division generated €6.3 billion ($8.2 billion) in sales last year, accounting for more than half the parent company’s €11.1 billion ($14.4 billion) in total revenues.

“The branded drugs segment with sales close to $1.5 billion will have an EBITDA close to $900 million. Assuming 30 per cent margins; Lupin would make close to Rs 1500 crore [$245.8 million] on an operational level on this deal,” according to an “analyst who did not want to be identified” quoted by The Economic Times.

Lupin is the fifth largest and fastest growing top five generics company in the US (5.3% market share by prescriptions, according to IMS Health data furnished by the company) and the third largest Indian pharmaceutical company by sales. The company also said it is the fastest growing top 10 generic pharmaceutical players in Japan and South Africa, again citing IMS data.

In its most recent fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, Lupin racked up record sales of Rs 110.866 million ($1.817 billion), finishing with a record profit of Rs 18.364 million ($301 million).

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