United Drug, the international healthcare services provider based in Ireland, has expanded the scope of its packaging business by acquiring Bilcare’s Global Clinical Supplies (GCS) operations in the UK and the US for US$61 million.

The acquired assets include a US facility in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and one in Crickhowell, Wales.

Owned by Pune, India-based Bilcare Limited, Bilcare GCS provides clinical-trial materials services to pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies and clinical research organisations worldwide, including the formulation, development, packaging, labelling and supply-chain management of drugs used in clinical studies.

In total, 195 staff work for the acquired GCS businesses in the UK and the US. Bilcare Limited will retain its clinical supplies business in Asia as part of the deal with United Drug., which is expected to complete on 31 August 2012, subject to the usual closing conditions.  

The two companies have also agreed that, in cases where customers require clinical-trial materials services across the US, UK and Asia, United Drug and Bilcare Asia will work together to meet their needs.

Global leader

United Drug said the Bilcare GCS operations complemented its existing commercial packaging business and would be incorporated into its Packaging & Specialty division, making United Drug a global leader in both commercial and clinical packaging.

United Drug’s Packaging & Specialty division offers pharmaceutical contract packaging services from facilities in the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium. It also provides speciality distribution and homecare services in the UK and Ireland.

The US$61 million agreed for the GCS acquisition is payable in cash on completion and will be financed from United Drug’s internal resources and existing debt facilities.

The deal estimates the gross assets of the combined business at US$16 million and the profits applicable to those assets in the last financial year at US$4.6 million. Net assets on completion are expected to be US$9.5 million.

Important step

According to chief executive Liam FitzGerald, the Bilcare acquisition is “another very important step in the development of United Drug as we focus on margin expanding, international opportunities”.

Along with the recent acquisitions of Watermeadow and Pharmexx, the transaction “extends United Drug’s position and reputation as an international provider of outsourced services to life sciences companies with an unrivalled service offering”, FitzGerald commented.

United Drug acquired Watermeadow, a UK-based medical communications and consultancy agency, in June. It paid a total of up to £13 million for the entire issued share capital of Watermeadow Medical Limited and Watermeadow Medical Consulting Inc.

In July, United Drug agreed to acquire the entire issued share capital of contract sales-outsourcing company Pharmexx from Germany’s Celesio AG for €35 million.


Bilcare described its agreement with United Drug as a “significant win-win” for both GCS and United Drug customers.

The deal would enable Bilcare GCS Asia to leverage United Drug’s “deep capabilities and resources” in the US and Europe to meet customer needs in those regions, the parent company said.

At the same time, Bilcare GCS Asia would continue to build scale by servicing the Asia-specific needs of United Drug’s customers in the US and Europe.