Speed Reads

Let's make a deal

Germany's Bayer is buying Merck's familiar brands for $14.2 billion

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There's been a high-stakes reshuffling of the deck in the global pharmaceutical industry, and the latest company to show its hand is Germany's Bayer, which said Tuesday morning that it's purchasing Merck's consumer care unit for $14.2 billion. That means the company that pioneered aspirin — and now also makes Alka-Seltzer, Aleve, and Flintstones vitamins, among other brands — will own Claratin, Afrin, Coppertone, and Dr. Scholl's foot products. But the bigger prize for Bayer, assuming the deal goes through, is that it will be the No. 2 consumer drugmaker in the world, after Johnson & Johnson.