Boehringer unit taps BofA to explore sale of generics business

NEW YORK Tue Dec 3, 2013 1:29pm EST

NEW YORK Dec 3 (Reuters) - Ben Venue Laboratories, a Bedford, Ohio-based subsidiary of German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim has tapped Bank of America Merrill Lynch to explore a possible sale of its generic sterile injectable drugs business.

Ben Venue announced in October that it was ceasing production due to quality control issues and said it was "exploring strategic options" for its Bedford Laboratories business.

The firm has hired Bank of America "to educate potential buyers about the Bedford Laboratories business" and the Ben Venue manufacturing site, a Boehringer spokeswoman wrote in an email on Tuesday.

It is unclear how much Ben Venue might fetch from a sale of Bedford Laboratories.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment.

Ben Venue was one of several manufacturers of Bedford Laboratories' methotrexate, a drug used in the treatment of several kinds of cancer including leukemia.

Ben Venue voluntarily shut down manufacturing in November 2011 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found quality control and manufacturing issues. In January, Ben Venue entered a consent decree with the FDA allowing it to manufacture certain cancer drugs that the agency said were in short supply. However in October the company decided to close saying that the interim controls it had put in place were not sustainable.

A number of pharmaceutical companies, such as generic drugmaker Mylan, Pfizer and Novartis may consider bidding for the business, the sources said.

Novartis, Mylan and Pfizer declined to comment.

In February, Mylan acquired Agila Specialties, the generic injectable drugs manufacturing business of India's Strides Arcolab Ltd, for $1.6 billion. The deal helped Mylan, one of the world's largest generic drugmakers, double its injectable drugs portfolio and make it one of the leaders in the rapidly-growing business.

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