United Drug has a busy summer buying pharma services companies in the US and Europe


Latest acquisitions are Bilcare Clinical Supplies and Drug Safety Alliance Inc.

United Drug PLC (Dublin) has completed five acquisitions in the past two months, in a dizzying array of service companies in the US and Europe; the unifying goal, according to a company statement, is to extend its position as “an international provider of outsourced services to life sciences companies with an unrivalled service offering.”

The recent round of investments started with Watermeadow Medical (London), a healthcare communications and consulting agency; it also has offices in the US. Purchase price was £13 million. That was followed by the biggest one: the Pharmexx GmbH unit of Celesio AG, the German logistics and retail pharmacy giant, for €35 million. Pharmexx provides contract sales in 18 countries in Europe and North and South America, employing 2,300. (Simultaneously, Celesio has divested its Movianto pharma 3PL business to Owens & Minor.) That was followed by Drug Safety Alliance (Durham, NC), a pharmacovigilance specialist, for $28 million. Synopia RX LLC (Cary, NC), a market access consultancy, for $12 million, was snapped up around the same time. Finally, at the end of August, United acquired the US and UK units of Bilcare Clinical Supplies, two of the properties of Bilcare Ltd., the Indian contract manufacturer. (Some of these purchase prices include future profitability targets or other incentives.)

United has a Sales, Marketing & Medical division into which Pharmexx fits; it also has Healthcare Supply Chain and Packaging & Specialty divisions. Its biggest US component, currently, appears to be Sharp Corp. (Allentown, PA), a contract packager, acquired in 2008. In the US, it also owns Alliance Healthcare (Ivyland, PA), also part of Sales, Marketing & Medical. On the other side of the Atlantic, United Drug is the largest wholesaler in Ireland, and the leading “prewholesaling” healthcare distribution-services company in the UK.

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