Pfizer has agreed to sell Caspugel — its drug casing business — to private equity firm KKR in a deal worth $2.38bn.

Proceeds from the sale will help the world’s largest drug-maker boost share buyback plans.

Last year, Caspugel manufactured 80 billion gelatine, softgel, non-animal and fish gelatine capsules used in Pfizer’s dietary supplements and pharmaceutical products while also selling more onto third parties.

Pfizer had been weighing up different option for the business, and the sale is the company’s first under Ian Read, who was appointed chief executive in December.

Read noted that more units could go as the company focuses on its more profitable growth businesses.