Turkey’s growing pharmaceutical sector—6th in Europe and 14th in the world in size—has made it to the headlines of global business publications with last week’s acquisition of local generics manufacturer Mustafa Nevzat by US biotech giant Amgen. Although shadowed by the sum of the deal between Amgen and Mustafa Nevzat, reaching USD 700 million for 95.6 percent of shares, Turkey’s pharma sector has attracted a series of transactions by foreign drugmakers in the last 10 years seeking growth in a market that is experiencing a rapid expansion on the back of a high performing economy.
The series of partnerships and acquisitions in the last ten years began with the takeover of Turkey’s oldest pharma company, Ibrahim Etem Ulagay, by Italian Menarini Group in 2003. The same year Actavis Group paid USD 63 million for Turkish generics maker Fako’s 89 percent shares. The company acquired the remaining 11 percent later in 2006, becoming the sole owner of Turkey’s 5th largest generics maker.
The years 2006 and 2007 saw foreign investors rushing to the country’s pharmaceutical sector with the sales of Biofarma to Citi’s venture capital unit, Munir Sahin Ilac to British Partners in Life Sciences (PiLS) and Taymed to Dutch company White Swan.
Another notable move into Turkey was made by Czech Zentiva which acquired one of the major players of pharma business in the country, Eczacibasi. The two-piece deal completed in 2010 gave Zentiva the rights to own the drugs division of Eczabasi group. The Czech unit of French company Sanofi, Zentiva now runs a research and development base in Turkey, while the parent group is in the process of moving its regional management center to Turkey.
Having experienced thorough changes and reforms in recent years, Turkey’s pharmaceutical sector has reached a size of USD 11 billion from 2004’s USD 5.7 billion, averaging at 7 percent of annual growth. Of the 42 drug manufacturing plants in Turkey, 14 are wholly or partially owned by foreign drugmakers. The rising demand for medicines is expected to garner more foreign interest to the country’s pharma companies, now numbering over 300.