SWITZERLAND – Sandoz, a Novartis division, has acquired Coalesce Product Development Limited, a medical and drug delivery device development company based in the United Kingdom.

Sandoz has acquired Coalesce’s capabilities and assets, which will allow the Novartis unit to expand its current portfolio of respiratory medicines and increase patient access to complex treatments.

The acquisition comes as Novartis considers the future of its knockoff drugmaker. The Swiss pharma launched a strategic review of Sandoz in October 2021, with the goal of providing an update on its plans by the end of 2022.

So far, Sandoz has attracted a slew of reported suitors, with Novartis CEO Vas Narasimahn confirming in November that he’d received “various requests for more information [on Sandoz], but no concrete offers.”

Sandoz CEO, Richard Saynor said: “Respiratory and complex generics are areas of relatively high unmet medical need, due largely to their comparatively high technical complexity.

“At Sandoz, we have the experience and expertise to succeed in these fields and this acquisition offers us a significant new growth platform, particularly in the US and Europe, reinforcing our commitment to pioneer access for patients.

Respiratory market size

The respiratory market is very large – with approximately 260 million people worldwide suffering from asthma as of 2019, for example – but it is highly genericized and competitive, putting pressure on pricing.

In the same year, approximately 3.2 million people died as a result of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The annual cost of respiratory diseases to healthcare systems and productivity in the 28 EU member states exceeds US$380 billion.

Creating inhaler products that use high-tech delivery devices – which can improve patient convenience and therapy compliance – is one way to gain market share and better pricing.

Sandoz sees respiratory as an important part of its long-term growth strategy, with a current portfolio of six in-market products and nearly twice as many more in the pipeline, and plans to explore more opportunities both internally and externally.

Sandoz also intends to broaden its portfolio of complex generics, including complex injectables.

Sandoz’ uncertain fate

Meanwhile, Sandoz’s fate remains uncertain following the release of Novartis’ strategic review last fall. In terms of potential bidders, Bloomberg first reported in February that investor groups Blackstone and Carlyle could team up to make a US$25 billion offer for the generics unit.

According to the German newspaper Handelsblatt, a Swedish investment group and Germany’s Struengmann family have emerged as potential Sandoz suitors.

In terms of other recent Sandoz moves, the generics company announced in March that it was selling manufacturing operations in Ireland and Canada.

First, the company reached an agreement with contract manufacturer Sterling Pharma Solutions to sell its Ringaskiddy campus near Cork, Ireland.

Separately, Sandoz’s manufacturing plant in Quebec has been locked down by CDMO Delpharm.

In other news, Sandoz may benefit from a sales boost in Europe thanks to its generic version of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene’s megablockbuster Revlimid, which was launched in 19 EU countries last month.

Teva Pharmaceuticals was the first drugmaker to launch a Revlimid generic in the United States in early March.

In 2021, BMS reported Revlimid revenues of US$12.8 billion. With generic competitors on the horizon, BMS expects sales to fall between US$9.5 billion and US$10 billion in 2022.

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