December 17, 2018 / 6:42 AM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Taisho said to near $1.6 bln deal for Bristol-Myers's UPSA- Bloomberg

* Companies decline to comment

* Taisho’s sales of OTC drugs down year-on-year in April-Sept (Adds details on Taisho)

Dec 16 (Reuters) - Japanese healthcare firm Taisho Pharmaceutical Holdings Co Ltd is said to be close to a $1.6 billion deal for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s French over-the-counter drugs business UPSA, Bloomberg reported on Sunday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

An agreement for the consumer-health business could be announced as soon as this week, according to the report

Bristol-Myers Squibb declined to comment on the report, but said it was still considering options for the strategic review of UPSA that was announced in June. A Taisho spokesman declined to comment.

The report comes amid a flurry of deals among drugmakers, who are trying to survive a contraction in the domestic drug market due to government-led price cuts and promotion of generic drugs.

The Japanese drugmaker’s sales of over-the-counter drugs in foreign markets was worth 8.8 billion yen in April-September, down 7.9 percent on year, according to its results.

Earlier this month, Takeda Pharmaceutical won shareholder approval for its $59 billion takeover of London-listed Shire, allowing the company to join the ranks of the world’s top 10 drugmakers.

German drugmaker Stada and Italian healthcare company Angelini were among the final bidders for Bristol-Myers’ UPSA unit, according to a Reuters report in November.

Taisho shares ended down 0.3 percent at 12,560 yen on Monday. (Reporting by Bhanu Pratap in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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