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South Africa’s Ascendis Health buys two European firms, shares rise

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s Ascendis Health Ltd said on Tuesday it bought two European companies as part of its plan to expand globally and diversify its pharmaceutical products, sending its shares higher.

The health and care company will buy Cyprus-based pharmaceutical firm Remedica Holdings Ltd for between 260 million euros ($291 million) and 335 million euros and sports nutrition company Scitec International for 170 million euros.

Ascendis shares rose 2.95 percent to 23 rand.

The firm – which bought Spanish pharmaceutical company Farmalier S.A. in August last year – said it received the backing of 63 percent of its shareholders for the acquisitions which will be funded through a combination of debt, shares and proceeds from a rights issue.

Shareholders and new investors supported Ascendis’ proposed rights offer of 1.8 billion rand, the company said.

($1 = 0.8926 euros)


(Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by James Macharia)

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Egypt’s central bank offers $120 million to cover pharmaceutical imports

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s central bank said it is offering $120 million in its regular currency sale on Tuesday to be used for imports of pharmaceutical products, manufacturing components, vaccines and related chemicals and infant formula.

Egypt’s economy has been hobbled by a shortage of foreign currency since a 2011 uprising drove away tourists and foreign investors. Dollars are rationed through weekly auctions imports of essential goods get priority.

The central bank, which has been keeping the pound artificially strong, devalued the currency on March 14 to 8.85 per dollar from 7.7301 and announced a more flexible exchange rate policy. It later strengthened the pound to 8.78 per dollar, where it has remained since.

A weaker currency has made it more expensive to import raw materials, and with the price of finished medicines fixed by the Health Ministry, some manufacturers have stopped making cheap generic medicines to staunch growing financial losses.

On Monday, Egypt raised the price cap on medicines that cost up to 30 Egyptian pounds ($3.38) by 20 percent in an effort to address drug shortages, the health minister said on Monday.


($1 = 8.8799 Egyptian pounds)


(Reporting by Asma Alsharif, editing by Larry King)

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Novartis launches chronic disease programme for poor countries

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ZURICH (Reuters) – Drugmaker Novartis AG has begun a programme in Kenya, Ethiopia and Vietnam to supply 15 low-cost medicines to fight chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

The Swiss-based pharmaceuticals group said on Thursday its Novartis Access scheme would supply drugs for just $1 per treatment per month to governments, aid groups and others for a range of conditions that also includes cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

The drug list include Novartis’s valsartan for hypertension, vildagliptin for diabetes, and generics from its Sandoz division including tamoxifen for breast cancer. The company aims eventually to expand the scheme to 30 developing countries.

Responding to past criticism of the industry over the cost of medicines in low-income countries, many firms including Novartis, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline already provide drugs at lower prices than in the developed world.

Novartis chose Kenya, Ethiopia and Vietnam for their “great but diverse access challenges” and because it already has a strong presence or ties to non-governmental organisations there.

“This will allow us to support the delivery of medicine by building awareness of key non-communicable diseases and strengthening healthcare system capabilities in these diseases, including diagnosis and treatment,” Novartis said.

It did not immediately return phone calls seeking details.

The United Nations has highlighted concerns over the developing world’s ability to cope with escalating chronic disease, citing data showing about 85 percent of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases occur in developing countries.

Four-fifths of the world’s 350 million diabetes sufferers are in developing nations, and the U.N. estimates more than 40 percent of adults in many African countries have high blood pressure.

Other companies have also publicised similar efforts.

Amid pressure on the pharmaceuticals industry to do more, GlaxoSmithKline in 2009 agreed to slash drug costs for poor countries. Novartis’s cross-town rival, Roche, is working with the government in Ivory Coast to provide medicines for breast cancer and hepatitis.

(By John Miller, Reuters)

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