Ireland-headquartered Warner Chilcott could announce a $3 billion acquisition of Procter & Gamble’s pharmaceuticals unit later today, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

There have been rumours for several months that consumer goods behemoth P&G has been looking to pull out of pharma and concentrate on its vast range of personal care, cleaning and laundry products. Now the newspaper, citing unidentified people familiar with the move says that a deal with Warner Chilcott, which completed its move to Ireland from Bermuda at the end of last week, is imminent.

The private equity group Cerberus Capital Management and Forest Laboratories had been mentioned as possible buyers but it appears that Warner Chilcott, which specialises in birth control, female hormone therapies and dermatology products, has won the day. The WSJ adds that six banks are expected to provide $4 billion in financing, including $1 billion to refinance existing Warner Chilcott debt.

P&G’s healthcare unit posted $14.6 billion in sales and $2.5 billion in net income for 2008. However most of that comes from products such as the over-the-counter version of AstraZeneca's antiulcerant Prilosec (omeprazole) and Pepto-Bismol for heartburn and upset stomachs. Sales of pharmaceuticals only accounted for around $2 billion and its leading prescription treatment is the osteoporosis drug Actonel (risedronate), which is marketed with Sanofi-Aventis.