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Lilly considering a stake in Turkish drugmaker

Published on 06/09/11 at 12:25pm

Eli Lilly is reportedly eyeing up a partnership with Turkish drugmaker Mustafa Nevzat Ilac Sanayi (MN Pharmaceuticals) in order to tap into the country's growing drug market.

The pharmaceutical multinational is rumoured to be interested in a minority stake in MN Pharma, according to a Wall Street Journal report, although local Turkish newspapers suggested an outright sale of the business may also be on the cards.

The Turkish drugmaker is one of the few large-scale pharma companies in Turkey with an FDA-approved manufacturing facility, and recently started exporting cancer drugs for sale in the USA for the first time. It is ranked number seven in the top 10 local pharmaceutical companies, according to IMS Health, with about 1.8% of the market.

Multinational drugmakers are already well-represented in Turkey, accounting for 59% of the market, but there continues to be a drive towards partnership with local companies in order to circumvent importation restrictions which can lead to lengthy delays before a new product can be introduced. One issue is that the Turkish regulatory authorities insist on inspecting the facilities used to make imported medicines before they are authorised.

Earlier this year, GlaxoSmithKline was reported to be one of three companies bidding to buy Turkish generic drugmaker Biofarma, while private equity groups Cinven, CVC and Advent International are said to be looking at purchasing Bilim Ilac, the country's second-largest pharmaceutical company, in a deal estimated at around $1 billion. Turkey's biggest healthcare deal to date is a $603 million takeover of Eczacibasi Pharmaceuticals' generics business by Zentiva in 2007.

The Turkish pharmaceutical market was estimated to be worth around $11 billion last year, according to analysts at Business Monitor International, and has been growing quickly in volume terms although government-mandated price controls have pegged back value growth.

Last year, the government issued a new decree imposing an additional 9.5% in price cuts, breaking a promise it made at the end of 2009 to have a three-year moratorium on enforced reductions. As a result drugs sold in Turkey are 30-50% cheaper than the lowest Europe price, says  BMI.

Phil Taylor

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