Anaesthetic products are categorised into two classes, namely general anaesthetics, which cause a reversible loss of consciousness; and local anaesthetics, which cause a reversible loss of sensation locally (e.g. for local surgical procedures) or for a limited region of the body such as epidural anaesthesia, while maintaining consciousness.

Our diverse product range includes, inter alia, Diprivan and Ultiva (general anaesthetics used for induction, maintenance and recovery); Nimbex (a muscle relaxant used to facilitate intubation during surgical procedures) and a number of local anaesthetics including topical agents such as EMLA

FY17 Highlights

  • Acquisition of the commercial rights to AstraZeneca’s global (excluding certain territories, most notably the USA) anaesthetic portfolio, effective from 1 September 2016
  • Acquisition of GSK’s anaesthetic portfolio, effective from 1 March 2017

Anaesthetics across all of Europe grew 4,8% to EUR1,4 billion as at 30 June 2017. General anaesthesia which makes up 48,3% of the total by value, grew 3,0%, local anaesthesia grew 2,0% and contributed 20,5% to total value, while topical anaesthetics grew 9,6% with a 31,2% contribution to total value.

Source: June 2017 IMS

Sales of all general anaesthetics (which includes both inhaled and intravenous products) in China grew 11,0% and was valued at USD727 million as at 30 June 2017. Over the same period, the local anaesthetic segment grew 10,5% to approximately USD99 million while the muscle relaxant category grew 10% and was valued at USD56 million.

Source: June 2017 IMS

Key brands

BrandAPIType of anaesthetic

% of total group revenue



Developed Europe 1,7
Other territories 2,5


Anaesthetics was established as a therapeutic focus area following the acquisitions of the AstraZeneca anaesthetics and the GSK anaesthetics during the course of the year. The acquisitions are in line with our stated strategy of acquiring products within therapeutic areas that are both niche in nature and complementary to our existing operations. We are now the largest global player in anaesthesia outside of the USA. Revenue of R7,0 billion was recorded post-acquisition with the largest contributions coming from Developed Europe (R1,7 billion), China (R1,5 billion) and Japan (R1,3 billion).

Developed Europe

Performance to date has been encouraging with the focus on the successful transition of the portfolios and managing supply. The AstraZeneca anaesthetics have been substantially integrated and all distribution transfers are in the process of being completed. The initial feedback from anaesthetists has been positive following the launch of a marketing campaign which focused on increasing the clarity of the benefits of the various products as well as strengths offered. The training and orientation of the sales representatives responsible for these products was also completed during the course of the year to ensure optimal field force effectiveness. These initiatives are expected to be instrumental for performance delivery in the 2018 financial year.


The acquisition of the anaesthetics portfolios from AstraZeneca and GSK prompted our entry into China, resulting in significant infrastructure investment being required. Aspen offices have been established in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou with a total headcount exceeding 600, comprising the Group’s largest regional sales force. We now have meaningful presence in the second largest and one of the fastest growing countries for pharmaceutical sales in the world.

Early performance indications from this portfolio in China have been encouraging. With the relaxation of the one-child policy, there is potential growth opportunity for Naropin within obstetrics and gynaecology.

Other territories

Following the acquisition of the anaesthetics portfolio, we have expanded our field force and extended our coverage in Japan. Our focus is on Diprivan prefilled syringes, Marcaine and Carbocaine which currently have limited generic competition.

Anaesthetics now make up approximately 20% of total revenue in Brazil, evidencing the strong brand equity attached to the acquired brands. Diprivan was the biggest revenue contributor in Asia and Latin America in the 2017 financial year.

The addition of the anaesthetics portfolio has provided impetus for revenue growth in the rest of Asia, despite ongoing pricing pressure and the curbing of healthcare spending by governments.


While there are opportunities for growth, the anaesthetics portfolios have seen declining sales pre-acquisition as a result of increasing generic competition. There is scope for synergies to be achieved between the anaesthetics and thrombosis segments in several regions, as we continue working towards positioning Aspen as a strategic provider to hospitals and hospital groups. Our growth strategy for this portfolio includes increased promotional activity following a protracted period of minimal promotion, line extensions and new registrations in certain countries, offering an attractive broad range of anaesthetic product combinations for hospital pharmacies and an intense focus on patient safety and satisfaction. In the 2018 financial year, we will benefit from the full year inclusion of both the AstraZeneca and the GSK anaesthetics portfolios.

On 13 September 2017, we concluded an agreement with AstraZeneca to acquire the remaining rights to the intellectual property and manufacturing know-how related to the AstraZeneca anaesthetics. In addition to the extra value acquired through this transaction, the acquisition gives us the potential to leverage our sterile manufacturing facilities in the future, thereby increasing throughput and reducing the manufacturing costs of all of our sterile products.