All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for March 2003

Richter to sell Biogen's Avonex in Eastern Europe

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2003
Boston Business Journal

Gedeon Richter, Hungary's biggest drugmaker, said it will sell Biogen Inc.'s multiple sclerosis treatment Avonex in eight East European countries.

Richter will be the sole distributor of Avonex for five years, said spokeswomen Zsuzsa Beke. It expects to get a "few million dollars a year" from sales in Russia, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Richter sells about 80 percent of its products outside Hungary and is looking to expand further as rising wages boost demand for medicines. The company bought a Polish drugmaker last year and set up a factory in Russia in 2001. Avonex will probably help it build a presence in the region, analysts said.

Avonex is Cambridge-based Biogen's best-selling product with more than $1 billion in sales last year.

Schering AG previously held the distribution rights for Avonex in the region. The drug will compete with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s Copaxone, Serono SA's Rebif and Schering's Betaseron, Beke said.

Richter is the world's fifth-largest maker of ingredients for birth control products and hormone substitutes. It signed a similar agreement to market generic contraceptives made by Barr Laboratories Inc. and plans to distribute more brand name products in the region, Beke said.

"Richter wants to become a regional licensing partner for international drugmakers,'' she said in a telephone interview.

© 2003 American City Business Journals Inc