PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (Reuters) - South African drug maker Aspen Pharmacare will produce up to 3.6 billion pills a year at its new manufacturing plant as it expands its therapeutic portfolio, Chief Executive Stephen Saad said on Monday at the official launch.
Aspen, with operations in 50 countries, has restructured its business to focus on therapeutic products such as steroids, oncolytic and hormonal replacement therapy products, which helped to lift its first-half earnings.
Initially, the 1 billion rand ($80 million) facility will manufacture oncology products such as Alkeran, Leukeran and Purinethol, which are used for treatment of late stage cancers.
The facility will also produce Imuran, used for the prevention of organ tissue rejection in liver and kidney transplants as well as treatment of certain autoimmune diseases and Benztropine used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Saad said Aspen’s strategy was to take part in the specialty therapeutic segment in order to gain a sustainable global advantage in the market.
“This not only creates export revenue but gives domestic security in supply,” said Saad.
Aspen said most of the products would be exported.
Aspen, Africa’s biggest generic drugmaker, has been expanding rapidly outside South Africa, where a heavily regulated pharmaceuticals market has put a cap on growth. The firm is a supplier and manufacturer of branded and generic pharmaceutical products, as well as infant nutritional and consumer healthcare products.
Aspen, which counts developed Europe as its biggest revenue generator, said in March normalized headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the six months ended Dec. 31 rose to 872 cents from 692 cents, buoyed by a strong result from therapeutic-focused brands and positive performance of the pharmaceutical business in its home market.
Therapeutic-focused brands comprising the anaesthetics, thrombosis and high potency and cytotoxic portfolios, delivered revenue of 9.9 billion rand, contributing 45 percent of total group revenue during the period.
($1 = 12.5716 rand)
Editing by James Macharia and Adrian Croft