Brazil OKs purchase of drug firm by Sanofi-Aventis

SAO PAULO, May 19 (Reuters) - Brazil's antitrust regulator (CADE) has approved the purchase of local generic medicines maker Medley by France's Sanofi-Aventis SA SASY.PA, but will force it to sell off some of Medley's product lines first.

Sanofi-Aventis is now set to become the biggest producer of generic medicines in Latin America through the 500 million euro purchase of Medley, which it announced in April 2009. After they merge, the companies will have a 12 percent share of Brazil’s drug market.

The French company will have to sell three Medley brands -- Digedrat, a medicine for intestinal problems; Peridal for indigestion; and Lopigrel for vascular problems.

After the purchase was announced, two Brazilian anti-trust bodies, Seae and SDE, said they opposed the takeover, which they said would hurt competition in the sector in Brazil. The agencies later gave their approval without restrictions.

$=1.24 Euro Reporting by Cesar Bianconi; writing by Peter Murphy; editing by Andre Grenon