Cincinnati, OH - Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) has agreed to acquire the consumer-health business from Germany’s Merck KGaA.

The $4.4 billion deal adds vitamins and food supplements to the company's lineup of over-the-counter medicines, which include Vicks, Metamucil, Pepto-Bismol, Crest and Oral-B.

“We like the steady, broad-based growth of the OTC Health Care market and are pleased to add the Consumer Health portfolio and people of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, to the P&G family,” said David Taylor, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer in apress release.

Within the past six months, some of the largest and best-known CPG companies and private equity firms have spent nearly $11 billion on branded vitamin, mineral and supplement (“VMS”) businesses, notes William Hood, managing director and founder, William Hood & Co, New York. This is more money than in any calendar year historically, he says.

The $1 billion Consumer Health business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, grew 6% over the past two years and provides a broad range of OTC product remedies to relieve muscle, joint and back pain, colds and headaches as well as products for supporting physical activity and mobility. These are sold primarily in Europe, Latin American and Asia. Merck's top vitamin brands include Seven Seas, Dolo-Neurobion, and Femibion.

> Why Supplement M&A Is Exploding