Two companies streamline product portfolios

October 1, 1997

Pharmaceutical Representative

One major pharmaceutical company unloaded a bevy of over-the-counter products at press time as another announced its plan to sell its entire line of prescription generics.

One major pharmaceutical company unloaded a bevy of over-the-counter products at press time as another announced its plan to sell its entire line of prescription generics.

Novartis Consumer Health Inc., Summit, NJ, sold 14 over-the-counter brands to Heritage Consumer Products L.L.C., Brookfield, CT, for $20 million.

Meanwhile, Hoescht Marion Roussel, Kansas City, MO, told shareholders it would sell its generic pharmaceutical subsidiary, The Rugby Group, Norcross, GA.

Included in Novartis's sale were the cold and allergy products Allerest, Nostrilla, Privine, Sinarest and Vitron; the topical products Americaine, Caldecort, Caldesene, Eucalyptamint and Ting; the gastrointestinal products Bacid, Fiberall and Kondremul and the diet product Acutrim.

The Federal Trade Commission has approved the sale.

Novartis decided to sell the brands after a product rationalization study indicated that their sales were necessary in order for the company to focus on its leading over-the-counter brands. Novartis will continue to market its successful products Ascriptin, Desenex, Doan's, Ex-Lax, Gas-X, Habitrol, Maalox, Tavist-D, Theraflu and Triaminic.

In its most recent shareholder's report, Hoescht Marion Roussel cited a 17% decline in sales of generics in the first half of the year and a grim outlook for market improvement as reasons for its decision to sell.

The company also emphasized its conviction that it should concentrate its pharmaceutical efforts on innovative new products rather than on cheaper versions of existing ones.

Watson Pharmaceuticals, Corona, CA, stepped forward to take Hoescht Marion Roussel up on its offer. Although full financial details were not disclosed, the agreement includes an initial payment of $70 million, contingent payments on certain products and an upside-sharing payment based on certain future operating results.

The acquisition will enable Watson to nearly double its manufactured generic products and expand its new product pipeline by six additional Abbreviated New Drug Applications. PR