Novartis, Merck in talks to swap ops; Novartis faces Japan probe

|About: Novartis AG (NVS)|By:, SA News Editor

Novartis (NVS) is reportedly in discussions with Merck (MRK) for the Swiss pharmaceuticals company to trade its animal-health and human vaccines businesses for the U.S. drug maker's over-the-counter health-products unit.

The deal would involve each company swapping around $5B in assets and would fit in with their strategies - and with an industry trend - of focusing on their main strengths and of divesting non-core operations. (Previous)

Separately, Japanese health regulators have taken the unprecedented step of asking Tokyo prosecutors to begin a criminal investigation into whether Novartis violated advertising regulations by exaggerating the effectiveness of its Diovan hypertension drug in marketing materials. The alleged breach could lead to fines and jail terms. (Previous)