Actavis and Warner Chilcott say they are in early discussions about a possible combination

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Drugmakers Actavis Inc. and Warner Chilcott PLC said Friday that they in early talks about a possible combination of the two companies. Both say there is no agreement on a deal yet.

Shares of both companies soared in Friday trading.

Actavis was formed in October through a $5.6 billion combination of Watson Pharmaceuticals of New Jersey and Actavis of Switzerland. It is one of the world’s biggest generic drug companies. It sells versions of the deep vein thrombosis treatment Lovenox, asthma medication Xopenex, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drugs Adderall XR and Concerta, heart drug Toprol XL, cholesterol fighter Lipitor, contraceptive Generess FE, and pain drug Kadian among many other products.

Actavis also has a pharmaceutical distribution business called Anda.

Warner Chilcott is based in Ireland. The company’s sales declined over the last two years after low-cost generic versions of its osteoporosis drug Actonel went on sale in Western Europe and Canada in 2010. At the same time, sales of drugs like Actonel have fallen in the U.S. The company expects sales to keep slipping in 2013.

Other Warner Chilcott products include the ulcerative colitis treatment Asacol, which is its top-selling drug, and Delzicol, an ulcerative colitis medication that was approved in February. The company also sells oral contraceptives including Lo Loestrin FE.

Actavis expects to generate more than $8.1 billion in revenue this year, while Warner Chilcott expects $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion. Actavis, based in Parsippany, N.J., had 17,700 employees as the end of 2012, while Warner Chilcott had 2,100.

Warner Chilcott shares climbed $3, or 20 per cent, to close at $18.01. According to FactSet, the company’s market capitalization stood at $3.76 billion as of Thursday’s close and rose to about $4.51 billion on Friday.

Actavis shares rose $13.05, or 12.2 per cent, to close at $119.86 after reaching an all-time high of $121.13.