Merck KGaA is to sell its Theramex unit, which specialises in women's health and gynaecology, to Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
The companies have signed an agreement whereby Teva will acquire all of Theramex operations including those in Monaco (where it is based) and Italy for 265 million euros. In addition, the Darmstadt, Germany-headquartered firm's Merck Serono unit will be eligible to receive certain performance-based milestone payments.

Theramex' women's health products sell in 50 countries and it had revenues of 100 million euros in 2009, the majority of which derived from direct sales in France and Italy, where the unit "has developed strong brand recognition and a reputation for quality among women's health specialists". The company's pipeline includes a new oral contraceptive based on natural oestrogens, Merck & Co-partnered NOMAC/E2, which has completed Phase III studies and been submitted for approval in Europe.

Explaining the deal, Elmar Schnee, president of Merck Serono, said  his firm wishes to concentrate on its core therapeutic areas - neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility, rheumatology and endocrinology. It will also focus on "cardio-metabolic care products in emerging markets where access to general medicines remains a high unmet medical need".

Mr Schnee added that "as Theramex is entering the contraceptive market, we firmly believe that a combination with Teva will not only contribute to growing its position in the gynaecological market but also to building a major player in the area of contraceptives".
Teva chief executive Shlomo Yanaiisaid Theramex’s "diversified product portfolio, its seasoned sales force and promising pipeline will be combined with the strong R&D capabilities and product
portfolio of our US women’s health business". The deal will help Teva expand into key growth markets in Europe and around the world "and provide an excellent springboard for future sales".