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Eli Lilly, Turkish firm in talks to sell drugs in 26 nations

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Eli Lilly and Co., the world’s biggest maker of psychiatric drugs, is in talks with Mustafa Nevzat Ilac Sanayii AS to sell the Turkish company’s treatments in 26 countries, said Mustafa Nevzat’s CEO.

Negotiations are at an “advanced stage” and the two companies aim to reach an agreement as soon as possible, Levent Selamoglu said in an interview Sept. 28 at a drugmakers’ meeting in Istanbul.

Mustafa Nevzat, a closely held generic-drug maker also known as MN Pharmaceuticals, was the first Turkish pharmaceutical company to win a license to sell products in the United States from the Food and Drug Administration, according to the company’s website. International companies sought to do business with MN since it acquired the FDA license in 2006, Selamoglu said. The company’s product range mostly includes injectable medication, he said.

“We are aiming to sell our products with Lilly in different markets including Brazil and other Latin American countries as well as in Asia, Europe and Africa,” Selamoglu said.

The company’s products range from antidepressants to diabetic treatments and antipsychotic agents, according to its website.

Selamoglu said he’s not aware of any talks between the two companies for Eli Lilly to buy a stake in MN. “This is something shareholders may know,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 1 that the U.S. drugmaker was in early talks to buy a minority stake in Istanbul-based MN. The talks might not result in a deal, according to the newspaper.

Cengiz Sezen, MN’s chairman, and Selamoglu didn’t respond to e-mailed questions about possible talks or return phone calls from Bloomberg seeking comment.

MN has revenue of about $250 million a year from the sale of about 100 million boxes of its products in Turkey, Selamoglu said. Turkey’s drug market was $9.2 billion in 2010, according to the website of the Istanbul-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Turkey.

Abdi Ibrahim Ilac Sanayi & Ticaret, Turkey’s biggest pharmaceutical company with $834 million sales in 2010, according to its website, said May 18 it was in talks with foreign investors to sell a minority stake.

Zentiva NV, a Czech drugmaker, bought 75 percent of the generic drug unit of Turkey’s Eczacibasi in 2007 for 460 million euros ($613 million.) It purchased the remaining 25-percent stake two years ago.

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