German drug company Bayer has agreed to acquire the consumer care business of U.S.-based Merck & Co., in a deal that would bolster Bayer in the over-the-counter drug sector. The $14.2 billion purchase includes brands such as Claritin, Coppertone and Dr. Scholl's.

From Reuters:

"The transaction, the largest in the German healthcare industry since Bayer bought rival Schering in 2006, will make Bayer the second biggest over-the-counter drugs maker after Johnson & Johnson, as it seeks to make better use of its distribution network and sales force."

Bayer says the deal with Merck, which is based in New Jersey, will make it "the OTC leader in North America and Latin America."

The two pharmaceutical companies are also agreeing to collaborate in "a class of drugs that includes Bayer's Adempas, which is approved to treat a deadly lung disease," Bloomberg reports.

Merck will pay Bayer $1 billion to get that venture started.

The Bayer deal is being announced weeks after the news that "Swiss drugmaker Novartis is buying British company GlaxoSmithKline's cancer drug business for up to $16 billion," as NPR's Here & Now reported.

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