Eli Lilly's (NYSE: LLY) latest pact with Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is an animal of a deal -- but only in the literal, not figurative, way.

Eli Lilly is purchasing Johnson & Johnson's European-based animal-health business. The deal will bring about 50 animal-health products to Eli Lilly's Elanco unit.

There wasn't a manufacturing plant as part of the deal and terms weren't disclosed, so it's likely a minor trade for the two companies with multibillion dollars' worth of sales. It's safe to say the deal by itself isn't going to do much to make up for the blockbuster drugs Lilly is about to lose.

But every little bit helps. Lilly picked up a suite of European animal-health products and a manufacturing plant to produce them from Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) last year. Adding the products from Johnson & Johnson should help operational efficiencies. For the most part, the more products a sales force has to offer, the better.

And Eli Lilly can use all the beefing up it can get. The animal-health division is in a stall next to some tough competition as Merck (NYSE: MRK) and sanofi-aventis (NYSE: SNY) bring their two animal-health divisions together. The new joint venture is a combination of Merck and Sanofi's old joint venture, Merial, plus Schering-Plough's animal-health division, Intervet, that Merck acquired in 2009.

Lilly might get a chance to grab a few more products when Merial and Intervet come together. The closing of the deal seems to be taking longer than expected, which I'm guessing is because the companies are in negotiations with antitrust regulators to figure out exactly what products they'll need to divest of. That's how it got the products from Pfizer last year.

We might have to start calling Eli Lilly a vulture – figuratively, of course.

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