Bristol-Myers Squibb hands Upsa consumer biz to Taisho for $1.6B

The deal is the second consumer health transaction between BMS and Taisho. (Pixabay/rawpixel)

When it rains, it pours. Just as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline teamed up on an industry-leading consumer health joint venture, Bristol-Myers Squibb struck its own deal in the sector.

The New Jersey pharma giant has agreed to sell French consumer business Upsa to Taisho Pharmaceutical for $1.6 billion. The pair expects the transaction to close in the first half of next year.

The move marks “the culmination of an in-depth strategic review,” kicked off in June, to “identify the best option to grow the Upsa business for the long-term,” Giovanni Caforio, BMS’ CEO, said in a statement. “With Taisho we have found an experienced and reliable buyer with the strategic interest to successfully sustain and grow the business for the future.”

It also puts cash in the pocket of Bristol-Myers, which says it will use the new funds to “further refine its portfolio to focus on transformational medicines for patients facing serious diseases.” Those include lung cancer, an area the pharma giant is looking to expand in with immuno-oncology duo Opdivo and Yervoy.

RELATED: Bristol-Myers Squibb nears $1.6B sale of OTC unit Upsa to Taisho: report

“Upsa is focused on consumer medicines that are outside of the Bristol-Myers Squibb core focus,” the company said.

Not so for Taisho, though. Taisho is Japan’s largest OTC drugmaker, and it holds leading positions in the anti-inflammatory analgesic, cold and flu and hair growth segments in its home country and across Southeast Asia. Upsa’s offerings, which include pain, cough and cold and sleep remedies, will fit right in.

The deal isn’t the first between the pair, who also teamed up on a 2009 deal for Bristol-Myers’ Asia-Pacific OTC business.

And it’s not the first to crop up recently in the consumer health field, either. After a year that saw Novartis and Merck KGaA exit the space, Pfizer and GSK are putting themselves on the same track. Their joint venture will eventually be spun off into its own company, the pair said Wednesday.