GSK offloads consumer brands to Omega, delays Alli sale

GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) good news: It has found a buyer for European rights to a portfolio of consumer products it has been trying to unload for some time. The not-so-good: It's still stuck with Alli, the weight-loss drug, as supply problems weigh on its ability to market the brand.

The buyer is Omega Pharma, and the deal is worth £391 million, or $612 million. The products Omega has picked up include the stomach drug Zantac, the allergy spray Beconase, the painkiller Solpadeine and the sleep aid Nytol. Together they accounted for £185 million ($289 million) in sales last year.

Also part of the deal is GSK's manufacturing site at Herrenberg, Germany, where a number of the divested brands are made, the company said. The 110 employees there are expected to transfer with the site to Omega Pharma.

The European deal follows the recently completed sale of U.S. and Canadian brands, and it's expected to net £310 million, which will be "returned to shareholders" this year, according to GSK.

Of course, the product conspicuously absent from both sales is Alli, the weight-loss pill that GSK once expected to become a cash cow but never fulfilled those hopes. Roche ($RHHBY) makes the active ingredient for the pill--Alli is a lower-strength version of the Swiss drugmaker's diet drug Xenical--and those supplies have been temporarily disrupted, GSK tells Reuters. The supply problem is a production issue, unrelated to safety, the company said.

- read the release from GSK
- get more from Reuters