Pfizer expects to complete Pharmacia deal next month

Divestments promised to secure FTC approval

March 18, 2003|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK -Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drug maker, said yesterday that it expects to complete its $53 billion purchase of Pharmacia Corp. next month after agreeing with U.S. antitrust regulators to sell some products.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission staff will forward the proposal to the full commission for approval, Pfizer said. Pfizer spokesman Andy McCormick declined to identify the products to be sold, though the company said the divestments won't have a material effect on its business.

Pharmacia and Pfizer announced the takeover in July, and originally had expected to complete the deal by the end of last year. The acquisition will allow Pfizer to get all the revenue for Celebrex and Bextra, top-selling arthritis painkillers that are marketed jointly by the two companies.

FTC spokesman Mitch Katz said the commission won't comment on pending transactions until after it votes.

Last month, Pfizer agreed to divest itself of five drugs so that it could win European Commission approval for the acquisition. Pfizer said it would to sell rights to the experimental incontinence treatment darifenacin and Parkemoxin, used to treat animals. Pharmacia said it would divest two impotence drugs it is developing, and the two companies agreed to stop selling Ketensin, a blood-pressure treatment.

Pfizer's shares rose 75 cents yesterday to close at $29.79 on the New York Stock Exchange. Pharmacia's shares gained $1.26 to $41.39.

Pfizer and Pharmacia had agreed earlier to sell other medicines to satisfy regulatory requirements for the acquisition.

Pharmacia said in January that it would give up the rights to intranasal apomorphine, an experimental impotence drug, to its partner Nastech Pharmaceutical Co. Pharmacia said the FTC had told it to sell the medicine because the Pharmacia-Pfizer combination otherwise would control too much of the market. Pfizer makes the impotence treatment Viagra.

Galen Holdings PLC, a maker of medicines for women based in Northern Ireland, said this month that it had agreed to buy the oral contraceptives Estrostep and Loestrin, and the hormone therapy Femhrt from Pfizer for as much as $484 million.

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