Johnson & Johnson to Buy Pfizer Unit for $16.6 Billion

Health care products maker Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) said Monday it is buying the consumer health care unit of drug maker Pfizer (PFE) for $16.6 billion in cash.

The deal would give Johnson & Johnson brand names including Listerine, Nicorette, Visine, Sudafed and Neosporin as part of a unit whose reported sales totaled $3.9 billion in 2005.

Pfizer had been reviewing its strategic options for the division since February so it could focus on its prescription drug business.

J&J will also acquire the U.S. over-the-counter switch rights to the prescription antihistamine Zyrtec upon patent expiration. Its own brands already include Band-Aid, Tylenol and Neutrogena.

"This acquisition builds upon our broad base in health care products and our leadership objectives in the consumer, pharmaceutical and medical devices and diagnostics markets," Johnson & Johnson Chairman and Chief Executive William C. Weldon said in a statement.

The deal, which was approved by the boards of both companies and is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, is expected to close by the end of 2006 and contribute to Johnson & Johnson's earnings in 2009.