Another big pharmaceutical tie-up has been announced with Germany’s Bayer purchasing US firm Merck’s consumer care business, which includes brands such as Coppertone sunscreen and Claritin allergy medicine.
The price is $14.2 billion (10.1billion euros).
The two will also collaborate on the development and marketing of some drugs.
The deal will make Bayer the second biggest over-the-counter drugs maker. Johnson & Johnson is number one. Bayer has repeatedly said it wants to overtake J&J in the rankings.
“This acquisition marks a major milestone on our path towards global leadership in the attractive non-prescription medicines business,” Bayer’s chief executive Marijn Dekkers said in a statement.
This is the latest move in the swift consolidation of the fractured healthcare industry.
Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline will form a joint venture in consumer healthcare as part of their agreement last month to trade billions of euros worth of assets.
UK government to look closely at Pfizer AstraZeneca deal
US drugmaker Pfizer is trying to take over UK pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
British government concerns about that mean parliamentary committees are to question top bosses of the two companies.
AstraZeneca has rejected a 63 billion-pound (76.7 billion euro) bid from Pfizer, but the US firm is expected to pursue its efforts to acquire Britain’s second-largest pharmaceutical company.
“Are we certain that the national interest has been properly protected?” Andrew Miller, chairman of the British Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, told Reuters.
“It is up to them who they field as long as they field people who have got the authority to answer questions,” Miller said, adding that the best solution would be to see the chief executives in front of his committee.
Miller, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour party, said the panel has no power to block the bid but that he wants “a lot more information” on the impact on Britain’s science base and intellectual property from any potential takeover.
The British parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee will also call representatives from the two companies, a spokesman said.
Asked about the potential takeover, Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman confirmed there would be no direct government action .
He said: “We will engage very actively with both companies in terms of the importance of R&D, of skills, of expanding the skill base in the UK and we will keep doing that.”
The spokesman added a decision on any deal was “a commercial decision between shareholders” and that the British government was “very clear that that is for the shareholders and no one else.”