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fizer has signed deals with Indian drugmakers Aurobindo Pharma and Claris Lifesciences which will boost its presence in generics as well as emerging markets.

First up is the agreement with Aurobindo, which is an expansion of a partnership signed in March. Under the terms of the new deal, Pfizer has acquired the rights to 55 generic oral drugs and five injectables in “more than 70 emerging market countries”. Pfizer has also gained US and European rights to a number of generics as part of the pact, the financial details for which have not been disclosed.

Pfizer has also given no details cash-wise about its link-up with Claris but that deal focuses on the developed, rather than emerging markets. Under the terms of the agreement, Claris has sold the rights to 15 injectable products which will be sold once they are no longer patent protected and have lost market exclusivity in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The New York-based drugs giant noted that to date, 128 non-Pfizer products - 98 oral and 30 injectables – have been added to its existing portfolio of established brands.

Commenting on the rationale behind the deal, chief executive Jeffrey Kindler said that the “off-patent marketplace worldwide too often suffers from quality and supply reliability issues”. They also represent one of the fastest growth segments for the industry and he noted that with its portfolio and “world-class manufacturing capabilities, Pfizer is in an ideal position to supply high-quality medicines at affordable prices to people around the world”.

The moves are part of Pfizer’s bid to reduce the damage that patent expiries are having on its business. In the first quarter, generic competition battered sales of the antihistamine Zyrtec (cetirizine), the colorectal cancer drug Camptosar (irinotecan) and the blood pressure treatment Norvasc (amlodipine). However the big patent expiry looming large for Pfizer will be on the $12 billion-a-year lipid-lowerer Lipitor (atorvastatin).

Pfizer is not the only major that has recently upped its interest in generics (see GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co, Sanofi-Aventis et al) and the Aurobindo/Claris deals came hours after Novartis announced it is buying the generic injectable oncology business of Austria’s EBEWE Pharma for 925 million euros.