As rumours about a takeover bid from Bayer gather pace, Warner Chilcott has announced that it is looking at its future options which include a sale.

The board at the Ireland-headquartered firm, which specialises in selling women's healthcare, gastroenterology, dermatology and urology products, primarily in North America, confirmed that "further to media speculation…it is conducting a process to explore a broad range of strategic alternatives". These include "preliminary discussions with potential offerors".

Warner Chilcott stressed that these talks are at a preliminary stage "and may or may not lead to an offer". Goldman Sachs has been hired by the company which says it does not intend to disclose further developments regarding the process "unless and until its board has approved a specific course of action".

News that a sale might be in the offing sent the firm's shares, which are listed on the Nasdaq, up 16% to $21.81. Bayer is rumoured to be planning an offer in the region of $30-$32 per share.

Loses Doryx case to Mylan

Meantime, Warner Chilcott has suffered a legal setback after a court in New Jersey ruled that Mylan can launch a generic version of the firm's antibiotic Doryx (doxycycline), saying its product does not infringe the subject patent.

Doryx 150mg had sales of $264.1 million last year, according to IMS figures and Warner Chilcott said it intends to appeal the ruling. The company expects to record an impairment charge in the range of $90-$108 million related to the court decision.