(Adds details on Cardiolite, company strategies, byline)
By Ransdell Pierson
NEW YORK Dec 17 Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY.N)
on Monday said it plans to sell its medical imaging business for
$525 million to a private equity group as part of an effort to
focus on its higher-profit prescription medicines.
Bristol-Myers said it agreed to sell the unit to Avista
Capital Partners and aims to complete the all-cash transaction by
the end of January.
Bristol-Myers announced plans said earlier this month to sell
the unit, which had sales of $658 million in 2006 from a small
number of products.
The biggest product, Cardiolite, is an injected substance
that shows blood flow inside the heart during exercise and rest.
Cardiolite loses U.S. patent protection in late January, although
Bristol has asked for an extension that would protect the product
from generic competition through the end of July, a company
Cardiolite is widely used in so-called stress tests, which
allow doctors to find areas of the heart muscle that do not get
enough blood supply. The tests can also show areas that have
been harmed after heart attacks. Cardiolite is also used for
other purposes, including to show the presence and size of
The medical imaging unit's second-biggest product is
Definity, an injectable imaging agent used to improve
ultrasound images, Bristol-Myers said.
Bristol-Myers, whose $17.9 billion in 2006 sales was
overwhelmingly from its array of prescription drugs, said it is
continuing to explore "strategic options" for its nutritionals
business and its Convatec wound-healing business.
The New York-based company, whose drugs include blood clot
preventer Plavix and schizophrenia treatment Abilify, on Dec. 5
predicted its earnings will grow at least 15 percent annually
The strong results will be due in part to a planned major
restructuring that will eliminate 10 percent of its work force
and close more than half its factories over the next three
years, Bristol-Myers said.
Company officials have said cash from sale of the medical
imaging business, and potentially from its nutritionals and
Convatec units, would be plowed into its pharmaceuticals
business and help finance costly trials of a new generation of
Bristol-Myers shares slipped 9 cents to $27.99 in early
morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, amid a moderate
downturn for the drug sector.
(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson, editing by Derek Caney)