BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB LOOKING UPSA INTO EUROPEAN OTC BUSINESS
BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB LOOKING UPSA INTO EUROPEAN OTC BUSINESS with the acquisition of a large minority stake in UPSA Group. UPSA is described by Bristol as the largest privately held European OTC drug firm and a leader in the effervescent products technology. Under the agreement, announced Aug. 31, BMS will acquire 33.56% of the UPSA Investments holding company and a "significant minority interest" in UPSA Group. The "alliance will play a central role" in BMS' plans to expand its small position in the European OTC market, the company said. UPSA, established some 55 years ago, had 1989 sales of over$200 mil., according to industry sources. The company markets a broad line of effervescent OTC products, including analgesics, (Efferalgan, Dafalgan and Aspirine UPSA brands) cough/cold medicines, anti-inflammatories and vitamins, and the prescription anti-arrhythmic Cipralan (cibenzoline). UPSA's OTC analgesics rank second in Europe in market share behind Bayer AG and industry estimates put UPSA's share of the French pain relief market at around 30%, with control of approximately half of the French acetaminophen market. UPSA products also have "strong positions" in Belgium and Spain and a "growing presence" in Italy, BMS said. BMS plans to expand UPSA's effervescent product lines on a worldwide basis, particularly to the U.S. and Japan. While UPSA's technology could theoretically be used to create new formulations of BMS' own brands, such as Bufferin, Excedrin analgesics and Comtrex cold medicine, the U.S. market for effervescent products has yet to catch fire. Bristol-Myers Squibb currently does not have any effervescent products. Financial terms of the agreement, which are subject to approval by the French Ministry of Industry, were not disclosed. BMS also has the option to acquire, "in the longer term," the remaining UPSA stock, also subject to French government approval. UPSA management will remain in place; however, a new board of directors will be formed in which BMS will control three seats out of seven. UPSA Group is led by president, CEO and majority stockholder Nicole Bru, MD. Formerly the head of UPSA R&D, she took the helm of the firm after the death of her husband Jean Bru, MD. UPSA, which has its manufacturing headquarters in Agen, France, also has an R&D facility in Rueil-Malmaison. The company employs about 1,200 employees with a sales force at just over 275. The company currently does not have a presence in the U.S.
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