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Actavis to buy Forest Labs in $25 billion deal

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm •  Published: February 18, 2014

Actavis PLC plans to buy Forest Laboratories Inc. for about $25 billion, catapulting little-known Actavis into the world's No. 15 drugmaker, with an unusual one-stop-shopping model giving it an edge: more face time with doctors.

U.S. physicians, increasingly crunched for time, keep reducing how many drugmaker sales reps they see. Forest gives Actavis not just a broader product line, but also its big U.S. sales force, which now can promote a half-dozen Forest and Actavis products at each doctor visit. That likely will result in more time and more options to present to primary care doctors, compared to rival brand-name drugmakers whose sales reps promote one or two drugs.

"They have just figured out a way to maximize use of time" with doctors, WBB Securities analyst Steve Brozak said Tuesday. "There's no way big Pharma can compete with this."

Actavis, based in Dublin, calls itself a specialty pharmaceutical company, but it sells several hundred generic, brand-name and nonprescription medicines generally prescribed by family doctors, from birth control pills to infection drugs. Its specialty drugs include osteoporosis treatment Actonel, other drugs for women's health, and dermatology and urology medicines. And it's partnering with biotech giant Amgen Inc. to develop five biosimilars — like generic versions of ultra-expensive biologic drugs made in living cells.

Still, Actavis needed a bigger U.S. presence and more brand-name drugs to keep growing. New York-based Forest brings all that, including branded drugs Namenda for Alzheimer's disease, Saphris for schizophrenia, Linzess for chronic constipation and antidepressant Viibryd.

Actavis said it will pay $26.04 in cash and a third of an Actavis share for each Forest share. The total, per-share price of $89.48 is about 25 percent more than Forest's $71.39 closing price Friday.

Paul Bisaro, chairman and CEO of Actavis, said the combination will now have six drugs awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and 10 others in late-stage patient testing, including three biologic drugs.

"It pushes us up the food chain a little bit," Bisaro said of the deal. "We don't have an objective of size. What we have is an objective of growth for our shareholders."

The cash-and-stock deal, expected to close by mid-year, will give Actavis about $15 billion in combined revenue, compared with $4.66 billion in the first nine months of 2013. The company reports 2013 results Thursday.

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