Bristol-Myers Squibb says it has completed the sale of its US and Canadian consumer medicines business to Novartis AG [[15/07/05a]]. The Swiss giant has paid $660 million for the business, which includes the $160 million-a-year pain medicine, Excedrin (acetaminophen).

Novartis also gains the rights to the US OTC brands in Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, where sales topped $16 million last year. The transfer of these rights are expected to complete by the end of the year.

Novartis is currently one of the world's top OTC companies, raking in $2 billion in revenues in 2004. The firm's OTC offerings rank second in Europe and this latest deal is clearly testament to Novartis' desire to beef up its offering in the all-important US and Canadian markets. In a statement, the Swiss company said the purchase of the OTC products, which had combined 2004 sales of $258 million, would give it "greater critical mass" in the US OTC field.