One of the biggest pharmaceutical deals of the year is being struck with an eye to the industry's cheapest drugs -- generics. Endo International PLC announced on Monday that it is buying privately held Par Pharmaceutical Holdings Inc. for $8.05 billion in cash and stock in a bid to expand its generics business and put it on track to "long-term double-digit revenue growth," as company representatives said in a statement

Endo, of Dublin, is known primarily as a producer of specialty medicines, but its generics division called Qualitest has been a powerful driver of growth since it was acquired in 2010, says Rajiv De Silva, Endo’s president and CEO. Last year, Qualitest launched 11 products and ranked fifth among U.S. companies for total generic prescriptions dispensed in the country. The overall market for generic drugs is expected to grow at an annual clip of 12 percent for the next five years, according to a recent report by Bharat Book Bureau, a market research firm.

"This is an exciting time of growth and opportunity in the generics and specialty pharmaceutical arenas,” said Paul Campanelli, Par Pharmaceutical's CEO. "We share Endo's goal of developing and commercializing generic drugs in areas of greatest revenue potential, complex formulations and longer life cycles.” Campanelli will lead the generics division at Endo and join the company’s executive team.

Par Pharmaceutical, headquartered in Chestnut Ridge, New York, already offers 100 products and has twice as many awaiting further testing and FDA approval, StreetInsider reports. Many of the company's existing products are taken as injectables, which have a higher barrier to entry for companies than pills because they are more difficult to manufacture. This strategy helped Par Pharmaceutical generate $1.3 billion in revenue last year with a staff of 1,600 people, the New York Times reports, while Endo brought in $2.88 billion during the same period with more than twice as many employees at 5,000.

Endo will pay $6.5 billion in cash and 18 million of its shares (valued at $1.55 billion) in the deal. The transaction will close by the end of June and should save the companies $175 million in operational expenses and taxes in the first year.

In March, Endo lost out to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International in a competitive scramble to buy Salix Pharmaceuticals, a company that makes gastrointestinal drugs. At that time, the company said it would look for other opportunities for growth.