A pharmacist counts pills in a pharmacy. File image: Reuters

Johannesburg - Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s largest generic-drugs maker, posted a gain in first-half profit as the expansion of its international business outweighed sales growth in South Africa.

Net income climbed 14 percent to 1.93 billion rand ($181 million) for the six months through December, the Durban, South Africa-based company said today in a statement.

Financing costs included 143 million rand relating to recent acquisitions overseas.

Aspen, which supplies medicines in more than 150 countries, said sales climbed 33 percent to 12 billion rand, including 4.3 billion rand from the Asia-Pacific region and 3.8 billion rand from South Africa.

Operating profit from units outside its home market climbed to 71 percent of the total, compared with 63 percent a year earlier.

“That Aspen has built such a strong South African business has facilitated its merger and acquisition growth elsewhere,” Mathew Menezes, an analyst at Avior Research in Johannesburg, said by a phone.

The company said in September it would buy injectable thrombosis brands, including a manufacturing site and inventory, from London-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc for 700 million pounds.

Glaxo reduced its stake in Aspen to about 12 percent last year.

Aspen agreed to buy pharmaceutical assets from Merck & Co Inc for $1 billion in June. - Bloomberg News