Pfizer puts Emergen-C into its consumer med cabinet

Pfizer ($PFE) is snapping up the company that makes Emergen-C, those ubiquitous vitamin C packets that sell for some $10 a box. The world's biggest drugmaker will add California-based Alacer to its consumer health operations, acquired along with Wyeth in 2009.

"Emergen-C products add to and greatly complement our market-leading dietary supplement portfolio," Pfizer Consumer Healthcare President Paul Sturman said in a statement. Alacer makes about 500 million Emergen-C packets a year, Pfizer said. The terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

When Pfizer decided to review all its operations early last year, some industry watchers expected the consumer health unit to be among the businesses sold or spun off. Instead, the company announced in July that it would divest its animal health and nutrition units--but hold onto consumer health. The idea was to build up the portfolio of over-the-counter brands, supplements and other products, to make the division worth keeping.

As Bloomberg points out, Alacer isn't the first supplement-maker Pfizer has bought recently. It nabbed the Danish vitamins company Ferrosan last year. The vitamin companies join Pfizer's flagship multivitamin brand Centrum, in a supplement business that amounts to about $1 billion in sales.

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