Lupin to sell its Japanese arm and Sandoz to acquire Aspen’s Japanese business

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On 11 November 2019, India-based Lupin announced that it has agreed to sell its entire stake in its Japanese subsidiary Kyowa Pharmaceutical Industry Co to Japan-based private equity firm Unison Capital for an enterprise value of Yen 57.36 billion.

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This follows the news in August of Lupin selling Kyowa’s injectable business to a subsidiary of United Arab Emirates-based Neopharma group [1].

Lupin’s planned sale of Kyowa Pharma, which it acquired in 2007, was prompted by the implementation of a price control regime in Japan which has led to lower profit margins. Unlike in India where prices of essential medicines have been increasing by 2%‒4% annually despite price control regimes, drug prices in Japan have declined.

‘The Japanese Government is happy with the genericization it has achieved and it is taking away the incentives which were given for generics. Going forward, we have to have a differentiated play in this market’, said Lupin’s Managing Director Nilesh Gupta.

Lupin will receive net proceeds of US$300 million from the sale, which it will use to strengthen its balance sheet and provide growth capital to support organic and inorganic initiatives for its focus markets – India and the US. In Japan, Lupin will retain its biosimilar business including etanercept [2] and focus on bringing complex and specialty generics to the country.

In another development in Japan’s pharmaceutical market, Sandoz recently announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the Japanese business of Aspen Global Incorporated (AGI). Sandoz will acquire the wholly-owned subsidiary of Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited for an upfront payment of Euros 300 million in cash.

Aspen’s portfolio in Japan consists of approximately 20 products, now off-patent branded medicines with a focus on anaesthetics (including Xylocaine®) and specialty brands (including Imuran®), as well as some local brands. Product sales for the fiscal year ending in 2019 were Euros 130 million.

Furthermore, AGI has entered into a five-year manufacturing and supply agreement with Sandoz for the supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients as well as semi-finished and finished goods related to the portfolio of divested brands.

‘The acquisition of Aspen’s Japanese operations would significantly strengthen our position in this country, a stable but growing generics market. We are committed to helping address patient and customer needs in the market as we aspire to become the world’s leading and most valued generics company’, said Sandoz CEO Richard Saynor.

The acquisition of AGI will complement Sandoz’s broad portfolio and pipeline of hospital generic and biosimilar medicines with a dedicated sales, marketing and medical organization, enhancing its ability to serve patients and customers in the hospital channel. For Aspen, the move will enable stronger focus on its core pharmaceutical business.

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1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Lupin to sell Japanese injectables business and collaborates with German drugmaker on anticancer treatment []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Nov 22]. Available from:
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Japanese approval for Lupin’s etanercept biosimilar []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Nov 22]. Available from:

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