Merck's off-patent drugs are called "diversified
brands" and many are sold in emerging markets.
The sale processes underscore efforts by large drugmakers to
shed smaller divisions they view as non-core so they can better
focus on their mainstay products. They have shown new
willingness to consider large asset swaps with rivals to exit
weaker businesses and bolster core areas where they are already
Sanofi SA <SASY.PA>, being advised by Evercore Partners Inc <EVR.N>,
is also in the market with its aging drug portfolio, which could
fetch between $7 billion and $8 billion, Reuters reported on
Representatives for Merck declined to comment. The sources asked
not to be named because the matter is not public.
Both Merck and Sanofi have an extensive line-up of older
products that could be carved out, following similar moves now
under way at Pfizer Inc <PFE.N> and GlaxoSmithKline Plc <GSK.L>
to place older products in separate divisions.
Pfizer announced last year it planned to separate its business
into three units — innovative pharmaceuticals; vaccines,
oncology and consumer health; and established products. The U.S.
group has not ruled out a full breakup.
GSK is starting down a similar path, and CEO Andrew Witty said
on Wednesday that he would consider single products or broader
divestiture of its established drugs.
(Reporting by Soyoung Kim, Olivia Oran in New York and Sophie
Sassard in London, additional reporting by Ransdell Pierson,
editing by Prudence Crowther and Ken Wills)
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