Firm says acquisition makes it fifth largest generics firm in Australia and largest in Singapore.

Watson Pharmaceuticals has bought generic drugs firm Ascent Pharmahealth for Aus$375 million (about $393 million) in cash. Ascent is the Australian and Southeast Asian generics business of Strides Arcolab, and achieved total sales of some Aus$150 million in 2012.

Watson claims the acquisition will make it the fifth largest generics firm in Australia, based on revenues, and the largest in Singapore, as well as providing an established commercial base in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand.

The Annual Australian and South East Asian pharmaceuticals markets are currently worth some Aus$12 billion, and Aus$4 billion, respectively, and both are growing at an estimated 8% annually, states Paul Basaro, Watson president and CEO. “This acquisition complements our existing generic development and marketing capabilities and in the important Australia market, and catapults us to a top five position that would have taken considerable time and investment to build organically. It also provides us with a leadership position in Southeast Asia…We will retain the proven sales and marketing teams that have driven Ascent’s growth; we will have a larger portfolio of products, and gain a broader pipeline of products to support continued growth.”

Watson’s existing business in Australia is carried out through its Spirit Pharmaceuticals supply operation, and its Willow Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, which specializes in injectables. In 2010 the firm also established the Watson Pharma Company to consolidate its position in Australia and support growth.

The Ascent acquisition follows just over a month after Watson and Amgen initiated a collaboration to develop and commercialize oncology antibody biosimilars worldwide. Under terms of this deal Watson committed up to $400 million in co-development costs. 

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