European regulators have given conditional blessing to a proposed three-part deal between GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, under which the firms will exchange assets and form a new consumer healthcare joint venture.

GSK intends to sell its portfolio of cancer drugs to Novartis for up to $16 billion and is buying the Swiss drug giant's vaccines unit for up to $7.1 billion (excluding flu jabs), and both plan to create "a world-leading consumer healthcare business" JV between Novartis OTC and GSK Consumer Healthcare. 

In relation to the vaccines acquisition, the European Commission has requested that GSK sell its meningitis vaccines, Nimenrix and Mencevax, on a global basis, and divest two small Novartis bivalent vaccines for protection against diphtheria and tetanus in Italy and Germany.

With regard to the consumer JV, GSK has agreed to sell its NiQuitin smoking cessation products and Coldrex cold & flu products in the European Economic Area, its local Panodil pain management and Nezeril/Nasin cold and flu products in Sweden, and Novartis’s topical cold sore business in the EEA.  

The deals remain subject to other closing conditions but bagging regulatory backing is a major advance, and the transaction is on track to complete during the first half of 2015, the firms noted.