P&G ACQUISITION OF SEARLE OTC BRANDS COMPLEMENTS RICH-VICKS'
P&G ACQUISITION OF SEARLE OTC BRANDS COMPLEMENTS RICH-VICKS' product line acquired last month and Procter & Gamble's current line of OTC's built through the purchase of Norwich Eaton in 1982. The Searle agreement, Procter & Gamble's third major acquisition in the OTC area in three years, will put the consumer products firm into three new OTC markets previously untouched by its own entrees or by recently acquired Rich-Vicks: the laxative market with Metamucil; the topical analgesic market with Icy Hot; and OTC travel sickness market with Dramamine. Metamucil and Dramamine are leaders in their respective markets, Procter & Gamble said. Searle's consumer products business, not including Equal, contributed sales of approximately $95 mil. in 1984, according to Searle's 1984 annual report. While not breaking out sales of individual brands, Searle said in its preliminary financial report for 1984 that sales of its key OTC product, Metamucil, were up 11%. A product-by-product breakdown of percentage contributions to Searle's total pharmaceutical consumer product sales in the firm's 1981 annual report indicated that Metamucil had sales of roughly $80 mil. that year. Procter & Gamble and Searle announced that they had "reached agreement on the sale of Searle's worldwide over-the-counter drug business" in a Nov. 4 press release. Procter & Gamble said the agreement included the three major U.S. brands, a manufacturing plant in Phoenix, Arizona, and "other brands marketed outside the U.S." The purchase price of the Searle brands was not disclosed. However, speculation surrounding Searle's attempt to sell off its businesses last winter put offers for the consumer business, including Equal, in the $300 mil. range. Monsanto indicated that it is still looking for a buyer for the Equal tabletop aspartame sweetener business. Monsanto had announced in mid-September that the sale of Searle's consumer division was being "explored." During Searle's aborted attempt to spin off its business components last winter, Pfizer was linked with the potential acquisition of the proprietary business, and was also rumored to have put in a bid for Searle's pharmaceutical/OTC business.
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