Company news from the 03/17/06 News Brief

Watson Pharmaceuticals said it will acquire Andrx for $1.9 billion to become the third-largest maker of generic drugs in the US. Watson will pay $25 for each outstanding share of Andrx and finance the transaction with cash reserves and loans, Watson said in a statement. Andrx, based in Davie, FL, specializes in controlled-release drugs, including generics. Watson is based in Corona, CA. Following the close of the transaction, the combined company will have more than 60 Abbreviated New Drug Applications in its pipeline. Germany’s Merck KGaA unveiled an unsolicited offer valued at $17.2 billion for rival German drugmaker Schering AG, The Wall Street Journal reported. Merck KGaA outlined the nature of its offer in a conference call with investors and reporters early Monday, but the offer was already soundly dismissed before the call on Sunday evening. Schering AG said Merck’s offer didn’t reflect Schering AG’s true value. The move by Merck KGaA will certainly put Schering AG into play, perhaps attracting the attention of other European pharmaceutical companies. Schering AG CEO Hubertus Erlen said the company wouldn’t recommend that shareholders accept Merck’s offer, adding that at no time were the companies in talks about a takeover. UK-based drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has reportedly walked away from a possible deal to purchase Europe’s largest biotech company, Switzerland’s Serono. Serono had been asking for $15 billion, but GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second-largest pharma company, indicated it would pay no more than $11 billion for the company, the Associated Press reported. Roxane Laboratories and Par Pharmaceuticals announced that they have resumed shipments of their generic version of Flonase (fluticasone propionate nasal spray) after a US District Court in Maryland refused to continue blocking sales. The FDA approved the Roxane generic version last month, but Flonase maker GlaxoSmithKline obtained a temporary restraining order halting its shipment and sales. The court refused to extend the restraining order. Par’s version of Flonase is an authorized generic, a version designed to undercut generic competitors as they come on the market. GlaxoSmithKline’s Flonase had $1.2 million in global sales last year.