Sanofi in talks to buy Indian OTC business

Sanofi ($SNY) is in the throes of another emerging markets deal. The French drugmaker's Indian unit Aventis Pharma is talking to buy the over-the-counter business of Universal Medicare. At about 5 billion rupees ($109 million), the buyout wouldn't be large. But it would give Sanofi's OTC operations in India a needed boost.

Sanofi would get about 30 of Universal Medicare's brands, with sales of about 1 billion to 1.15 billion rupees, or up to $25 million, Reuters sources said. "Sanofi's OTC business in India was quite nominal," one told the news service. "And the products are profit-making."

The deal is expected to be wrapped in a couple of days. It would be something of a double dip for Sanofi, which has been both branching out into emerging markets and strengthening its consumer healthcare business to help offset sales lost to new-and-impending generic rivals to some key drugs. India's over-the-counter market is growing at a 17% to 18% annual clip.

As Reuters notes, Sanofi is far from alone in targeting OTC markets in the developing world. Late last year, Reckitt Benckiser bought Paras Pharmaceuticals for $726 million, while Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) in May agreed to buy some Russian-market over-the-counter brands from India-based JB Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals.

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