UPDATE 1-Hospira in deal with Celltrion on biogenerics

Thu Oct 8, 2009 1:04pm EDT

* Deal on biogenerics in US, Europe, Australia, Canada, NZ

* Financial terms not disclosed

* Deal involves 8 biogeneric Celltrion products

NEW YORK, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Hospira Inc (HSP.N) said on Thursday that it has signed an agreement with South Korea-based Celltrion Inc (068270.KQ) that will expand the U.S. company's portfolio of generic biotechnology drugs in development.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Hospira said it involves a future distribution agreement for the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada for eight biogeneric products Celltrion is developing.

Under the agreement, the two companies would collaborate on manufacturing and supply of the products and market them under separate brand names once they are approved.

"This partnership gives Hospira access to Celltrion's large biogenerics portfolio, and is an excellent example of Hospira's commitment to organic and inorganic growth," Hospira Chief Executive Chris Begley said in a statement.

Hospira, based outside Chicago, is the leading seller of generic injectable drugs and poised to become a major player in the fledgling field of generic biotechnology medicines.

The company already sells in Europe a generic version of a widely used biotech anemia drug under its brand name Retacrit, and last month it gained full global rights to filgrastim, a generic version of Amgen Inc's (AMGN.O) white blood-cell boosting drug Neupogen.

It also has three biotech cancer medicines it has yet to disclose in its pipeline as it prepares for expansion of the biogeneric field. The United States is expected to pass legislation that creates an approval process for generic versions of expensive biotech medicines later this year or next year as health care reform gains momentum.

The business cooperation agreement signed Thursday is expected to lead to a final agreement in the coming months, the companies said.

"Hospira ... has the capabilities and experience to successfully sell biogenerics in these important markets," Jung-Sin Seo, CEO of Celltrion Healthcare and Celltrion Inc said in a statement.

Hospira shares were up 27 cents at $44.49 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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