Bayer is well-positioned to use the credit crunch as an opportunity to snap up assets at very reasonable prices, the chief of the German firm’s healthcare division chief has told Reuters.

Arthur Higgins told the news agency that the Leverkusen-based firm’s healthy cash position and the present financial crisis is an opportunity “and we would hope to be able to take advantage of that opportunity in the next three to 24 months". He added that the group is looking at ways to “expand our healthcare business inorganically” and “we believe that we are better positioned than many of our competitors."

Which particular area of the healthcare business Bayer chooses to expand remains to be seen. Earlier this year, Mr Higgins told PharmaTimes World News that the firm’s consumer healthcare operations represent a major opportunity for further growth and in March Bayer bought the over-the-counter assets of the USA’s Sagmel to boost its operations in Russia.

However the boss of Bayer Healthcare is now saying that there could be some movements within the prescription drugs areas. He told Reuters that “if the fit was right [and] if we found a pharma asset that would accelerate our growth and would be accretive rather rapidly, we'd be interested in that". However he added that “just adding bulk is not of interest to us”.

Mr Higgins concluded by saying that "we expect our pharma business to grow at least in line with the pharma market this year and next and accelerate thereafter, so we will grow above the market".