Based in Basle, Switzerland, Schweizerhall now holds more than 95 per cent of Cimex Pharma's shares, and will soon be in a position to request the delisting of Cimex from the Euronext exchange.
Prior to the acquisition of Cimex, Schweizerhall was a trader and distributor of chemical raw materials, intermediates, specialty chemicals and customised mixtures, and like it peers in the European sector has suffered from the combined effects of high raw material prices, weaker demand from customers and competition from low-cost suppliers in the Far East.
The company saw the Cimex purchase as a means of reducing its reliance on the chemical sector but also tapping into the strong growth envisaged for the European generic pharmaceutical industry over the coming years.
"In 2003, the European market for generics achieved a volume of CHF 20 billion (€13bn) based on consumer prices or CHF 3.2 billion based on production prices. The market is expected to triple in volume in the period to 2007," said Schweizerhall chairman Luzi Andreas von Bidder.
With the acquisition of Cimex, Schweizerhall's new pharma business unit offers development, registration, approval, production and packaging of generic drugs, as well as antibiotics, while specialising in solid formulations and serving the European generics industry.
The pharma business unit will operate as three separate divisions. Cimex Development will identify new products and develop dosage forms, advance projects to the market approval stage and sell licenses to generics companies. Meanwhile, Cimex AG will focus on producing proprietary products and contract production and packaging of solid dosage forms for third parties. Finally, Cimex Supply will source active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs from third parties and manage the production of proprietary products, including contracting out production to third parties if for patent reasons production cannot take place in Switzerland.
Four generic product launches are planned in 2005, with another four scheduled for the following two years, according to Schweizerhall.