Report: P & G Pharma Sale Talks Advance

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Talks on a potential sale of Procter & Gamble Co.'s pharmaceutical business are reportedly advancing.

The Wall Street Journal in Wednesday's editions cited unidentified people familiar with the matter who say several potential buyers include specialty drug maker Warner Chilcott Ltd., and private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP, and that a possible sale price is some $3 billion.

Cincinnati-based consumer products maker P&G said late last year it was interested in exiting the prescription-drug business. P&G pharmaceuticals include the osteoporosis treatment Actonel, which has more than $1 billion in annual revenues.

"We made it clear we'll look at all options to maximize shareholder value," P&G spokesman Paul Fox said Wednesday, adding that those include selling all or part of the business or keeping it. He wouldn't comment further on "the current speculation."

A message was left Wednesday at Warner Chilcott's Rockaway, N.J., office. The company primarily makes women's health care and dermatology products.

P&G officials have said they see better potential with over-the-counter products such as Vicks cough medicines and other personal care brands such as Always and Tampax feminine care.

The maker of Tide detergent, Pamper diapers and Gillette shavers has been active in selling off slower-growth businesses such as last year's deal sending Folgers coffee to J.M. Smucker Inc., while adding beauty and grooming businesses such as the men's skin care line Zirh and The Art of Shaving grooming.

P&G shares rose 20 cents to $55.25 in morning trading, while Warner Chilcott fell 32 cents, or 2 percent, to $14.12.

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