Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, best known for its generics operations, says that it is exploring strategic alternatives for its animal health business, including a possible divestiture.

The company says that the decision follows the strategic review carried out last year. Chief executive
Shlomo Yanai said that the animal health business "has a strong and broad portfolio of products with excellent leadership and good growth prospects for the future". However he added that "we believe it is the right time for us to explore strategic alternatives for this business as we focus on Teva's core business to maximise our long term growth potential."

As well as generics, Teva is looking to expand its branded business. It is already a leading player in the multiple sclerosis market with the injectable Copaxone (glatiramer acetate), and it has now initiated late-stage trials of laquinimod with Swedish partner Active Biotech which the firm hopes will be the first oral treatment to be available for MS.

Teva has retained Bear Stearns & Co as its financial advisor to look at the options for the animal health unit.

CEO of Teva North America resigns
The news comes just days after George Barrett, chief executive of Teva North America resigned to join Cardinal Health, one of the leading drug wholesalers in the United States, prompting a slight share decline. Mr Barrett is being replaced by William Marth, currently president and CEO of Teva USA.