Bayer lands Airborne marketer Schiff in $1.2B buy

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Bayer HealthCare inked a deal to acquire vitamin and supplement company Schiff Nutrition International, in a transaction valued at about $1.2 billion.

Schiff's product portfolio includes OTC brands MegaRed, Move Free and Airborne, among others.

“We will utilize our extensive marketing, sales and distribution expertise to further develop the strong brands we are acquiring,” said Dr. Jörg Reinhardt, CEO of Bayer HealthCare, the US subsidiary of Bayer AG.

The acquisition, announced Wednesday, brings to three the number of mid-size US companies the German pharma has bolted on in as many months. The others were crop protection firm AgraQuest, for $425 million in August, and Teva's US animal health business, for $145 million in September.

Bayer's move to bolster its US presence in the consumer health area follows that of some other big drugmakers. In 2009 Sanofi moved to acquire US-based consumer products firm Chattem for $1.9 billion, and this year Pfizer scooped up global rights to the OTC version of AstraZeneca GERD drug Nexium for $250 million up front and other milestone payments.

Then again, Pfizer sold its nutrition division to Nestle for $11.9 billion this year, as did Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2009, when it split off its Mead Johnson nutritional unit.

Some analysts have also called for Johnson & Johnson to divest its troubled McNeil consumer division, something new J&J CEO Alex Gorsky has resisted.

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