HEALTH

Reckitt Benckiser seeks to expand business with SSL bid

BY Michael Johnsen

SLOUGH, England Reckitt Benckiser on Wednesday announced its bid for SSL International, parent company of Durex, in a cash deal valued at $3.9 billion.

The acquisition of SSL provides Reckitt Benckiser with an attractive opportunity to increase its presence in the health and personal care sector, the company stated in a 39-page document outlining the proposed offer.

“The acquisition of SSL will provide a step change to Reckitt Benckiser’s global health and personal care business, which has been a key driver of Reckitt Benckiser’s net revenue growth and profit progression,” stated Bart Becht, Reckitt CEO. “It is anticipated that the acquisition will increase Reckitt Benckiser’s health and personal care net revenues by [more than] 36% to approximately [$4.3 billion, representing] one-third of the group’s total net revenues.”

The acquisition will add two new “power brands” to the Reckitt arsenal, Becht said, including Durex in intimacy health and Scholl in foot care. “We believe that we could drive further growth in the acquired business, especially Durex and Scholl, by investing in SSL and Reckitt Benckiser’s proven innovation and brand-building capabilities, and by taking advantage of our greater distribution strength,” Becht added.

The Dr. Scholl brand name currently is licensed to Merck Consumer Care in the U.S. market.

The SSL board intends to recommend unanimously that SSL shareholders accept the offer.

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OTC medicines impact J&J’s earnings guidance

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday updated its earnings guidance for full-year 2010 to $4.65 to $4.75 per share, reflecting the impact of the voluntary recalls announced earlier this year of certain over-the-counter medicines and the suspension of manufacturing at the McNeil Consumer Healthcare facility in Fort Washington, Pa., among other factors.

J&J realized overall sales of $15.3 billion for the second quarter of 2010, an increase of 0.6% as compared to the second quarter of 2009. Over-the-counter and nutritional sales specifically in the United States were down 27.5% to $492 million, the company reported. OTC sales outside of the U.S. totaled $649 million, up 2.9%.

The McNeil recalls and the closure of its Fort Washington, Pa. is expected to result in a $600 million sales impact for 2010, J&J CFO Dominic Caruso told analysts Tuesday morning.

Through a combination of identifying alternative sources of product and shifting production of those OTC medicines once manufactured in Fort Washington to other J&J facilities, Caruso suggested supply would be ramping back up to historical levels toward the end of 2010, beginning of 2011. “Certainly in 2011 we will have alternative sources of supply ready,” he told analysts. Caruso also noted that the quality issues associated with McNeil Consumer in both the Fort Washington and Puerto Rico plants were limited to those facilities.

The product recalls and subsequent Fort Washington closure aren’t the only factors influencing sales of OTC medicines, Caruso noted. Consumers that had migrated to private-label purchases are continuing to buy private label, he said. “Share that private label had been able to obtain during the economic downturn has been ‘sticking’ a little longer than previous economic downturns,” Caruso said.

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Christine Dumas tapped as speaker for CRN annual symposium

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Tuesday announced consumer, health and lifestyle reporter Christine Dumas is slated to join other top-notch experts as a speaker at The Conference, CRN’s annual symposium for the dietary supplement industry taking place in Austin, Texas, Sept. 29 to Oct. 2.

“If you’ve heard the term ‘social media’ but really want to understand what the term means from a big picture perspective for journalism and specifically for our industry, you’ll want to attend this session,” stated CRN annual conference chair Bill Van Dyke, president, B&D Nutritionals. “Her vast experience as a journalist and in analyzing and understanding consumer trends, makes her a very relevant addition to an already fantastic lineup of speakers for CRN’s annual conference.”

Dumas will discuss media trends in relation to the dietary supplement industry during the popular “Breakfast with…” session on the final day of The Conference.

As a reporter, Dumas’ stories have been featured on “NBC News Today” and “Today: Weekend Edition.” Additionally, Dumas has regularly appeared as a medical correspondent on Fox News Channel’s “Weekend Live” and has been featured on “Oprah” and “The View.”

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