HEALTH

GNC, WebMD ink multi-year partnership

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH GNC on Wednesday announced a multi-year marketing partnership with WebMD that is expected to help increase consumer awareness and understanding of the importance of vitamins and supplements to improve overall health and wellness.

“Given the strong leadership and commitment of our two companies to promote personal health and wellness, there is tremendous synergy in leveraging the strengths of two brand leaders to provide consumers with the personalized information that can help them live healthier lives,” stated Wayne Gattinella, chief executive officer and president, WebMD.

Under the terms of the agreement, a new “Live Well Topic Center” will be hosted on GNC.com and on WebMD, giving users access to WebMD content on health and wellness as well as direct links to GNC.com. Consumer education and product information will be distributed across GNC’s 4,900 U.S. retail locations in addition to the WebMD network of more than 50 million unique monthly users and GNC.com.

GNC will be featured in targeted areas on WebMD where consumers go most often for information on personal health, diet and nutrition information, including search, home page, and other highly visited healthy lifestyle areas. In addition, an interactive, personal health assessment will be available to help consumers easily establish their health goals and identify the nutritional supplements that would be most beneficial for them. GNC information and interactive tools will be featured across the WebMD network and GNC.com site. The partnership also allows GNC to license WebMD’s interactive tools as well as its content for use in GNC’s domestic retail network of 4,900 locations, including 978 franchise and 1,358 Rite Aid store-within-a-store locations.

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P&G to sell off ThermaCare

BY Alaric DeArment

BATAVIA, Ohio Procter & Gamble has named another brand that it will shed as it cuts off fat.

The company is looking for buyers for its ThermaCare heat wraps, a brand it started in 2002. P&G has already sold off its coffee business.

ThermaCare has worldwide sales of about $100 million, including $80 million in the U.S.

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Novartis acquires a quarter of Alcon

BY Michael Johnsen

BASEL, Switzerland Novartis on Tuesday acquired a 25 percent stake in Alcon as part of a definitive agreement with Nestle S.A. reached in April 2008 that provides the right to acquire majority ownership of the world leader in eye care in two steps.

The first step was completed on July 7 when Novartis purchased the Alcon stake from Nestle for approximately $10.4 billion in cash, approximately $200 million less than previously announced to account for the Alcon dividend paid in May 2008 for these shares to Nestle rather than Novartis.

The optional second step provides rights for Novartis to acquire, and Nestle to sell, the remaining 52 percent stake held by Nestle between January 2010 and July 2011 for a price not exceeding approximately $28 billion.

Completion of the optional second step would make Alcon a majority-owned subsidiary of Novartis, strengthening a portfolio that would include medicines, generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostics and consumer health products.

Alcon is one of the world’s largest eye care companies with 2007 annual sales of $5.6 billion, operating income of $1.9 billion and net income of $1.6 billion. Alcon offers a range of pharmaceutical, surgical and consumer eye care products used to treat diseases, disorders and other conditions of the eye.

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