March 1, 2019 / 9:57 AM / 7 months ago

Japan's Daiichi Sankyo explores OTC drugs business sale, hires JPMorgan -sources

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo Co is exploring the sale of its over-the-counter drugs (OTC) business and has hired JPMorgan to advise on the potential deal, several people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Japan’s No.4 drugmaker by revenue has been focused on developing cancer treatments to offset a revenue drop following patent expirations of its mainstay high blood pressure drug.

It is considering selling the Daiichi Sankyo Healthcare unit, four people told Reuters, declining to be identified as the information has not been made public. It has hired JPMorgan to advise on the deal, three of the people said.

A spokeswoman for Daiichi Sankyo said nothing had been decided. A JPMorgan spokeswoman declined to comment.

The OTC unit makes an energy drink, Regain, as well as the Lulu Attack cold medicine and Gaster 10 stomach medicine.

In the year through March 2018, the unit generated 72.9 billion yen ($651 million) sales, accounting for less than 10 percent of the group’s total sales of 960 billion yen.

Daiichi Sankyo shares have surged 20 percent this year, outperforming an 8 percent rise in the broader market.

($1 = 111.9700 yen)

Additional reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Editing by David Dolan and Himani Sarkar

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