Cephalon has agreed to buy Swiss generics drugmaker Mepha from Germany's Merckle family, which is also currently weighing up offers for Ratiopharm.

The US firm is paying 622.5 million Swiss francs, or about $590 million to get hold of Mepha, which manufactures and markets more than 120 products in 50 countries. For 2009, it had sales of around 400 million francs) and has achieved annual turnover growth rates of more than 13% over the last five years. Mepha also plans to launch some 50 chemical entities over the next five years.

Cephalon chief executive Frank Baldino said the acquisition “will transform our international business overnight”, adding that with this deal, “we now serve all three types of pharmaceutical markets, proprietary branded, generic and branded generic”. Alain Aragues, president of Cephalon Europe, said the purchase “will help us to significantly grow our current business and positions us as a more attractive partner” in the European, Middle East and African regions.

The deal is expected to close in the next ten to 12 weeks and will be accretive to Cephalon earnings in 2010. The sale is also good news for the Merckle family which is also selling Germany's Ratiopharm, The Merckle family is also selling Ratiopharm, the world’s fourth-largest generics firm, as part of a deal which secured a brldging loan from banks a year ago following the suicide of billionaire Adolf Merckle.