11/27/2012 7:42:26 AM
Merck KGaA said it would keep its non-prescription drugs unit even as a tussle over vitamin maker Schiff Nutrition highlighted the rich sale premium it could fetch. Merck's Consumer Health unit, home to Seven Seas vitamins and Bion probiotics brands, is seen by industry experts as too small, sitting between Merck's much larger businesses selling prescription drugs, high-tech chemicals and lab equipment. While Merck's top executives may want to consider a sale, which would help the company with the costs of replenishing its thin pharmaceuticals development pipeline, the founding family that controls the group is attached to the division. "Consumer Health is not for sale. Instead, we are currently improving the unit's profitability. All governing panels at Merck are in agreement over this," the company said in a written statement to Reuters. Reckitt Benckiser and Bayer's bidding for U.S. nutritional supplements maker Schiff showed that both drug majors and household product companies are keen to snap up over-the-counter (OTC) drug assets that come onto the market.
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