Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Pfizer considers consumer business sale

Published:Wednesday | October 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Pfizer chairman and CEO Ian Read.

Pfizer may be done selling ChapStick, Advil, Robitussin and other brands that people can buy without a prescription.

The pharmaceutical giant is weighing options for its consumer health-care business. It may spin off or sell the unit, which also produces Advil, Preparation H and the Centrum brand of vitamins. Pfizer may also leave the business as is, with no sale.

The New York drugmaker expects any decisions on the business to be made next year.

Chairman and CEO Ian Read said Tuesday that consumer health products are distinct enough from the company's main biopharmaceutical business that its value might be "more fully realised" outside the company.

The consumer health-care unit had revenue of about US$3.4 billion last year, while the company as a whole recorded US$52.8 billion.

Centerview Partners, Guggenheim Securities and Morgan Stanley are working as financial advisers for the review.

Pfizer's larger prescription drug business includes the erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra, the breast cancer drug Ibrance and the cholesterol fighter Lipitor. The company booked a US$3.07-billion profit in the second quarter on US$12.9 billion in revenue. The company will report third-quarter results later this month.

Pfizer said in August that it expects to gain regulatory approvals over the next five years for up to 18 new drugs and a half-dozen "biosimilars", or near-generic versions of complex injected drugs manufactured inside cells. But the drugmaker also faces competition from cheaper, generic versions of key products like Lipitor, which was the world's top-selling drug for a decade.

Pfizer shares edged up 32 cents to US$36.46 in premarket trading, after the drugmaker announced its review.

The stock price has climbed about 11 per cent so far this year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index has risen more than 13 per cent.

- AP