Barr Pharmaceuticals of the USA has raised its offer for Croatia’s Pliva, but said it would not comment on the bid amount until it is approved by the Croatian financial service authority (HANFA).

The counter offer comes in response to a $2.5 million offer from Icelandic rival Actavis, equivalent to 795 kuna a share, which trumped Barr’s earlier $2.3 million or 743 kuna per share bid. Pliva supported Barr’s initial offer, but swapped allegiance to Actavis when the details of its higher offer emerged.

Pliva’s shares were perched well above this level in mid-morning trading today, at 850 kuna, more than twice their value at the beginning of the year when Pliva was still wrestling with the loss of US patent protection on one of its major money-spinners, the antibiotic azithromycin.

Since then, Pliva has re-invented itself as a generics pure-play that would if acquired would catapult both Pliva and Barr into third place among the world’s top generic drugmakers, behind Teva and Sandoz.

Barr argues that geographic overlaps with Actavis in Europe make it a better partner for Pliva, opening up the US market to the Croatian firm.

Meanwhile, the Icelandic firm claims it will bring more to the local economy with the creation of new jobs as well as greater investment in the existing R&D and production facilities, maintain Pliva’s Croatian headquarters in Zagreb and create a European generics house with the stature to combat the volatile pricing environment in region.