Canada’s largest generic drugmaker Apotex is continuing its expansion into the European market and has acquired Lareq Pharma of Spain.

Financial details were not disclosed for the acquisition which is part of Apotex’ strategy of extending its foothold in Western Europe. The firm said that Lareq, which has been purchased from Industria Quimica Y Farmaceutica VIR, will serve as “a launching pad for the many EU products currently in the development pipeline”. Lareq, founded in 1984, is the 13th largest player “in the retail pharmacy generics segment”, Apotex said, noting that it enjoys “strong brand recognition amongst pharmacists, and a nation-wide sales force that reaches Spain's retail pharmacies”.

The Spanish pharmaceutical market is the fifth largest in the EU and ranks seventh in the world, valued at almost 13 billion euros. Generics make up 9% of that and that particular sector has grown almost 17% in the last year. Apotex president Andrew Kay said that “all the major international generics competitors are present here - it is a key market for us as we establish ourselves as a recognised global generic player".

The deal comes less than a month after Apotex announced the purchase of Topgen of Belgium from Italy’s Zambon, again for an undisclosed sum. Mr Kay concluded by saying that "the acquisitions in Belgium and Spain, as well as our new affiliate in Turkey, are clear signals of our commitment to growth outside Canada and the USA". The Toronto-based firm also has affiliates in Australia, New Zealand, Central America, Mexico, Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and the UK.