Jordanian generics drugmaker Hikma Pharmaceuticals says it has agreed to buy German oncology sales and marketing company Ribosepharm from Ratiopharm for $45 million in cash.

Once the deal closes later this week, Hikma, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, will have control of a firm that specialises in injectable generic oncology drugs in Germany where it has a 16% market share., Ribosepharm had sales of $43.2 million and pretax profits of $10.1 million at the end of 2005 and for last year expects turnover to come in around the $24.4 million mark.

Samih Darwazah, Hikma’s chief executive, said that the acquisition "provides us with an excellent platform from which to enter the large and fast-growing oncology market, which is forecast to become the second largest within the pharmaceutical industry by 2010.” He added that Ribosepharm has a strong position in Germany, “one of the largest European oncology markets,” and significant distribution capabilities. “We will be able to draw on its experience in the field of oncology and use its expertise” to expand into other markets in Europe, the USA and the Middle East/North Africa region, he concluded.

Industry observers welcomed the deal as it will boost Hikma’s injectables division and reduce reliance on its US generics business, which is suffering from price erosion and limited success for its new product launches. The firm's key markets at present are Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Jordan, while newer markets like Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates are also enjoying growth but expansion out of its home region is also a goal.