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12:16:19 am

Germany's Merck Aims To Grow, Not Sell $1 Bln Consumer Health Arm - Yahoo Finance

The non-prescription market has seen a wave of consolidation this year and a $17 billion deal for Merck to buy laboratory supplies business Sigma-Aldrich has prompted some bankers to speculate it might consider selling the consumer unit. But the family-controlled company insists it has no intention of quitting. "We really want to stick to that business," Uta Kemmerich-Keil, chief executive of Merck Consumer Health, said during a media briefing in London highlighting the unit's strengths. "Our strategy is a pure growth strategy and by the end of this year we will hopefully hit the $1 billion sales mark." Consumer health is smaller than Merck's other businesses selling prescription drugs, high-tech chemicals and laboratory equipment but has strong brands like Seven Seas vitamins and Bion probiotics. It also received a boost in January from the transfer of Neurobion and Floratil, for muscle soreness and diarrhoea, from the prescription drug unit Merck Serono. Kemmerich-Keil said she aimed to have at least three leading brands with a minimum 3 percent market share in key target countries, which include a number of emerging markets, like Brazil, where demand for front page self-medication is growing strongly. While securing strong positions in local markets could involve small bolt-on acquisitions or licensing deals, she sees no need for large-scale acquisitions, despite recent moves by leading players Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline to boost their OTC footprints.

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