Bayer to sell prescription dermatology unit and transfer 450 employees to Leo Pharma

With an ambition to expand its position as a leading dermatology company, Leo Pharma has agreed to acquire Bayer’s prescription dermatology business, which delivered €280 million ($328 million) in 2017 sales.

The drugs to be sold include Bayer’s topical acne drug Skinoren, fungal skin infections dual Travogen and Travocort, rosacea remedy Finacea and several topical steroids, including Advantan, Nerisona and Desonate. Bayer, however, isn’t ready to let go of its over-the-counter dermatology franchise, which includes two key brands, Bepanthen, which delivered €379 million in 2017 sales, and Canesten, with 2017 sales of €278 million.

Financial details were not disclosed, but Leo said the acquisition will first close this year for the U.S., and during the second half of 2019 for the rest of markets. There were reports when Bayer first looked at selling its dermatology assets that they might go for as much as $1.1 billion.

“We are very excited about this agreement. With the strong prescription dermatology brands and the new colleagues from Bayer, Leo Pharma advances significantly towards our goal of helping 125 million patients by 2025,” said Gitte Aabo, Leo’s president and CEO, in a statement.

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The deal follows Leo Pharma's $725 million buyout of Astellas’ dermatology portfolio, which closed in 2016. The Danish company said the Bayer deal represents a chance to further expand its presence in key markets around the world and broaden its dermatology treatment range.

The dermatology unit became part of Bayer in 2006 when the German drug giant acquired Schering. Now, Leo will take over the sales and marketing organization in 14 countries, a factory in Segrate, Italy, and about 450 employees as part of this transaction.

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“Moving forward, we believe that Leo Pharma is the right owner to grow and further develop the prescription dermatology business while enabling us to focus on building our core over-the-counter brands,” said Bayer Consumer Health head Heiko Schipper in a statement.