The company's injectable and infused pharmaceuticals business includes about 200 generic drugs, like the antibacterials azithromycin and ceftazidime, and the anticoagulant heparin sodium.
"The reason we think it's attractive is simply the technological capability and the experience to be able to develop and manufacture high-quality reliable medicines for a whole range of conditions [including antibiotics to cytotoxic drugs and others] is something really tough to do, and to do well," John Young, head of Pfizer's established products business, said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. Pfizer's existing portfolio of injectables includes the antibiotic Zyvox, chemotherapy docetaxel and birth control shot Depo-Provera.
Hospira has also been in the news in recent years as the only U.S. maker of drugs used in lethal injection. (The company said in 2011 it would stop making the anesthetic, sodium thiopental, because it didn't have U.S. manufacturing capabilities for it, and it had run into opposition in Italy.)
Hospira's also got biosimilars on the market in Europe and Australia; they're an area Pfizer has cited as a target for growth.
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Wall Street viewed the deal positively Thursday morning, driving Pfizer shares up 3 percent. The drug giant started reporting its "global established products," or GEP, "global innovative products," or GIP, and vaccines and oncology units separately last year, to enable it to consider a split of the businesses in 2017. Analysts view the Hospira deal as facilitating a potential divide.
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"We like the immediate accretion and strategic fit with GEP's move towards longer duration growth assets, but even more important is the potential multiple uplift it likely gives GEP if it is separated from Pfizer in 2017," Jeffrey Holford, an analyst with Jefferies, wrote in a Thursday research note. "We think this deal signals a firm intent to separate GEP in 2017 and leaves more firepower for further deals to augment GIP."