Bristol-Myers Squibb is in talks with several interested parties over the possible $1 billion dollar sale of its Excedrin line of painkillers and certain other over-the-counter products, according to the New York Times.

Citing unnamed sources close to the negotiations, the paper claims that GlaxoSmithKline and some private equity firms could be interested in the purchase. Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, which are already major players in the OTC market, could also be attracted to the purchase, it notes.

Whether a sale will ultimately materialise remains to be seen, but B-MS has already signalled its desire to concentrate its efforts on its product pipeline, having last month agreed to sell its oncology therapeutics network unit to One Equity Partners for an undisclosed sum [[15/12/04b]]. In its 2003 annual report, B-MS noted that its consumer medicines business had witnessed a 6% decline in sales to $354 million due to reduced inventory levels and flat Excedrin sales. The company is in the midst of a period of slow sales as results continuing to be plagued by heightened competition from branded and generic rivals [[01/11/04c]]. However, any sales decline during 2005 and 2006 should be more or less offset by its newer products and reiterated that it expects to see a return to growth in 2007 [[14/09/04a]].

- Meanwhile, B-MS and Japanese partner, Otsuka, say that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved an oral formulation of their schizophrenia treatment, Abilify (aripiprazole).

The firms say that the new formulation will be available in pharmacies next month, adding that it provides an important new option for adult patients who are unable to swallow or have difficulty swallowing tablets.