Indian drugmaker Dr Reddy's Laboratories may soon be joining the list of potential purchasers for the generics business of German drugmaker Merck KGaA.

India’s Business Standard newspaper quotes a spokesman for Dr Reddy’s as saying that “Merck’s generic business is such a big asset and we cannot ignore it, if it is up for sale. We neither confirm our interest nor deny it.” The company’s interest comes after rival Indian generics firms Ranbaxy and Cipla had mentioned the possibility of bidding for the Merck unit.

The latter two companies are thought to be exploring the possibility of funding any bids for Merck’s generics unit, which is likely to cost 4-5 billion euros, in combination with private equity groups but the Dr Reddy’s spokesman declined to comment when asked by the newspaper on how it would finance a deal or whether the company is in discussions with equity funds.

Apart from the Indian firms, only the Icelandic drugmaker Actavis has overtly thrown its hat into the ring for Merck’s generics operation which is likely to be sold to help the German drugmaker finance its acquisition of Switzerland's Serono.

Erbitux filed in Japan

Meantime Merck KGaA has announced that an application has been submitted to the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency for the use of Erbitux (cetuximab) in treating patients with advanced colorectal cancer. The filing in Japan is a result of a collaboration between Merck and its development partners ImClone Systems and Bristol-Myers Squibb.