(Adds CEO comment, recasts with China)
JOHANNESBURG, March 9 South Africa's Aspen
Pharmacare forecasts sales of about 2 billion rand
($152 million) in China over the next 12 months, the drugmaker's
chief executive said on Thursday after reporting a 6 percent
rise in first-half profit.
Aspen started trading in China in the six months to
end-December and is chasing growth in the world's second largest
pharmaceutical market with its recently acquired portfolio of
medicines from AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.
"I think we'll do sales of about 2 billion over the next 12
months," Stephen Saad told Reuters, referring to China, and
compared to sales of 0.6 billion rand to end-December.
In Asia, the business has expanded substantially with the
addition of AstraZeneca anaesthetics, the firm said in a
statement, boosting total sales for the six months to 19.8
billion rand, up 13 percent on a year earlier.
Aspen said normalised headline earnings per share rose to
692 cents from 656 cents.
Headline EPS is the main profit measure in South Africa and
strips out certain one-off items.
The firm acquired the marketing rights to a portfolio of
anaesthetics from AstraZeneca in September last year for $770
million and will add almost all of GlaxoSmithKline's
anaesthetics from this month.
The deals have made Aspen the largest anaesthetics seller
outside the United States, Saad said, adding that the new
products can be distributed through the networks it set up
earlier for thrombosis medicines.
"For anaesthetics we haven't had massive incremental
expenses because we are able to use our existing commercial
footprint," Saad said.
Shares in Aspen were up 0.2 percent at 275.25 rand by 0851
GMT, compared with a 0.7 percent drop in the JSE's benchmark
(Reporting by TJ Strydom and Tiisetso Motsoeneng; editing by
Subhranshu Sahu and Jason Neely)