February 15, 2006

Pfizer said it might sell off its consumer healthcare division, which includes 50 over-the-counter (OTC) products such as Neosporin, Listerine, Visine, Efferdent, Sudafed and Benadryl.

The drugmaker is "exploring strategic alternatives" for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Pfizer recently. The objective of the review is to "unlock the value of the business for Pfizer shareholders at a time when market valuations are attractive for large, high-quality consumer businesses."

Indeed, sales of Pfizer's OTC products increased 10 percent to $3.89 billion in 2005. GlaxoSmithKline's OTC sales also grew 2 percent in 2005.

Pfizer may be trying to reassure investors that it is exploring all ways to boost sales and profits, after its latest earnings report showed some key Rx product sales down on generic competition.

Other drug companies have also decided to unload their OTC divisions. In July 2005, Bristol-Myers Squibb sold its OTC unit to Swiss drugmaker Novartis for $660 million, saying it wanted to focus on 10 disease areas.