Pfizer Still Dealing With Antitrust Issues

Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE  ) acquisition of Wyeth has been done for months, but the pharma giant's still making moves to satisfy regulators. In order to keep the European Commission happy, today the company sold off some of its animal-health products marketed in the EU to Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY  ) . The terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Eli Lilly did say that the products will come with a manufacturing plant to help make them.

This isn't the first set of animal health products that Pfizer has had to dispose of to satisfy regulators. Before the acquisition closed, Pfizer also arranged the sale of other animal-health assets to Boehringer Ingelheim.

With terms for both deals undisclosed, the big question is how much these compulsory sales cost Pfizer. It's not ideal to be forced to find a buyer, but animal health is still a big business with lots of competition -- Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) , sanofi-aventis (NYSE: SNY  ) , and Bayer also have animal-health divisions -- so it's possible that Pfizer still got a decent price.

Animal-health products many not be as sexy as their human counterparts. How can parasiticides and feed additives compete with blockbuster treatments like Elan (NYSE: ELN  ) and Biogen Idec's (Nasdaq: BIIB  ) Tysabri or upcoming FDA decisions on drugs like Dendreon's (Nasdaq: DNDN  ) Provenge? But, like over-the-counter products, investors shouldn't ignore animal-health products either. Added together, Pfizer's animal products contributed over $2.7 billion to its coffers last year and Eli Lilly's animal health division added $1.2 billion.

We may not be done with the animal-health musical chairs yet either. Merck and Sanofi were partners before Merck acquired Schering-Plough, which came with its own animal-health division. As part of the disposal of their joint venture, which Sanofi took over, the companies laid the groundwork for teaming back up. If that happens, we could see additional products up for sale to satisfy regulators.

Aren't mergers and acquisitions fun? Lots of spinning wheels contributing nothing toward advancing products toward market or increasing sales of those that are already there. It's no wonder so many mergers fail to live up to expectations.

Tom Jacobs is putting out the "We buy ugly stocks" sign. I wonder if ugly M&A's are just too ugly?

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Elan is a Rule Breakers selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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