Biopharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. has agreed to acquire Hospira Inc., a provider of injectable drugs, infusion technology and biosimilars, for about $17 billion -- or $90 per share -- the two companies announced Thursday. The merger, approved unanimously by both companies’ boards of directors, is likely to be accretive to earnings by between 10 cents and 12 cents per share for the first full year upon closing.

Pfizer is purchasing Hospira with a combination of cash and new debt, with cash covering about two-thirds of the transaction. “Hospira’s business ... is an excellent strategic fit for our Global Established Pharmaceutical business, which will benefit from a significantly enhanced product portfolio in growing markets,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Ian C. Read said in a press release. Pfizer’s GEP business includes branded sterile injectables, and combining it with Hospira will create “a leading global sterile injectables business,” the release stated. The market for sterile injectables is expected to be worth $70 billion in 2020. The global biosimilars market is growing and expected to be worth $2o billion in 2020. 

Pfizer, based in New York, makes medicines and vaccines as well as health-care products. Hospira, headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois, manufactures generic sterile injectables and biosimilars. Its sterile injectables line includes injectables for acute care and oncology.

Biosimilars are biological products, including vaccines, blood and gene therapy, that are very similar to products already licensed in the U.S., with “no clinically meaningful differences ... in terms of the safety, purity, and potency of the product.” Biological products are more complex than prescription drugs and can be naturally sourced or manufactured with biotechnology or made synthetically, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Last year, Pfizer failed to acquire the British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca PLC, valued at $118 billion. Some analysts suggest Pfizer is looking at acquisitions as a way to drive growth and cut costs. In 2000, the company bought Warner-Lambert, the creator of the cholesterol drug Lipitor, for $112 billion. In 2009, Pfizer purchase Wyeth, a drug manufacturer, for $68 billion.