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Lupin Limited : Lupin Looking for Acquisitions of up to $500 Million in US

08/01/2012 | 06:39am US/Eastern

--Looking for buys in skin care, eye care, respiratory and women's health products

--Trying to expand pipeline of low-competition generic drugs for US market

(Adds executive's comments in 7th, 9th, 12th and 13th paragraphs, background and context elsewhere)

By Rumman Ahmed

BANGALORE--Lupin Ltd. (500257.BY) is looking to aggressively grow its business in the U.S. and is scouting for acquisitions of pharmaceutical brands and manufacturers, and seeking regulatory approval to sell a wider range of niche generic drugs.

The U.S. is Lupin's primary growth market, accounting for 35% of its sales.

The India drug maker is benefiting from a wave of patent expiries for popular drugs in the U.S. But to keep the business momentum going once the "patent cliff" wave wanes, Lupin is looking to acquire branded products that are much bigger that its previous purchases.

"We've looked at small-sized acquisition opportunities as well as opportunities in the $400 million-$500 million price range," group president Vineeta Gupta recently told Dow Jones Newswires.

Unlike most of its local rivals, Lupin's business model for the world's largest pharmaceuticals market is not limited to selling drug copies: It also sells branded products like antibiotic Suprax and anti-cholesterol drug Antara. While the branded products contribute about 25% of Lupin's U.S. revenue, they make up a larger share of its profit.

Lupin is looking for acquisitions to revive the momentum in the branded-products business at a time when existing brands are likely to come up against generic competition.

The company would prefer acquisitions in the areas of skin care, eye care, respiratory and women's health products, which are more in line with the company's commercial infrastructure in the U.S., Ms. Gupta said.

The company's 160-person sales force in the U.S. is focused on selling branded products to the pediatric and primary-care market segments.

Ms. Gupta, who also heads Lupin's U.S. unit, said Lupin had mulled acquiring eye-care company ISTA Pharmaceuticals Inc., but found it wasn't a "good fit."

Eye-products maker Bausch & Lomb Inc. purchased ISTA for about $500 million in cash in a deal that closed in June.

Lupin's previous acquisitions in the U.S. were much smaller in comparison. In 2009 it paid $38.61 million to bankrupt Oscient Pharmaceuticals Corp. for Antara, and acquired AllerNaze nasal spray from U.S.-based Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

As for its generic drugs business, Lupin is trying to move its pipeline to products that are exclusive and face less competition, Ms. Gupta said.

Lupin has already applied to sell generic versions of about 31 oral contraceptive products and some eye treatments. It has also filed the first generic drug application with the U.S. regulator for a skin care product in the January-March period, she added.

Benefits from selling these drugs, which have relatively high entry barriers and offer higher-than-average margins, are expected to kick in from the fiscal year starting next April.

Write to Rumman Ahmed at rumman.ahmed@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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