May 17, 2020

Proctor & Gamble acquires Merck’s consumer health arm for €3.4bn

pharmaceutical
Merck
Merck
pharmaceutical
Catherine Sturman
3 min
consumer health (Getty Images)
Procter & Gamble (P&G) has signed an agreement to acquire the Consumer Health business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany for €3.4bn.

This acq...

Procter & Gamble (P&G) has signed an agreement to acquire the Consumer Health business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany for €3.4bn.

This acquisition enables P&G to expand its successful consumer health care business by adding a fast-growing portfolio of differentiated, physician-supported brands across a broad geographic footprint.

It also provides P&G with strong health care commercial and supply capabilities, deep technical mastery and proven consumer health care leadership that will complement P&G's existing consumer Health Care capabilities, with brands such as Vicks, Metamucil, Pepto-Bismol, Crest and Oral-B.

P&G’s acquisition will also improve P&G’s OTC geographic scale, brand portfolio and category footprint in the vast majority of the world’s top 15 OTC markets.

“Over the past few years, our Health Care business has delivered consistent growth and strong shareholder value creation,“ commented Steve Bishop, Group President, Global Health Care.

“The Consumer Health business of Merck brings a strong set of brands, products and capabilities, and provides an attractive and complementary footprint to further fuel growth as we continue to grow our existing leading brands.”

The acquisition also improves upon the highly successful PGT Healthcare joint venture P&G had with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which will be terminated July 1, 2018, pending regulatory approvals.A recent review found that the two companies priorities and strategies were no longer aligned.

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In two years, Merck’s $1bn Consumer Health business has grown by 6% 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. Top brands include Neurobion, Dolo-Neurobion, Femibion, Nasivin, Bion3, Seven Seas and Kytta, along with many others.

Tom Finn, President, P&G Global Personal Health Care said: “This acquisition helps us continue to drive sales and profit growth for P&G by providing the capabilities and portfolio scale we need to operate a winning global OTC business on our own, without the aid of a health care partner.”

“P&G’s global scale and strategic interest in the health and well-being of consumers provide an excellent basis for accelerating growth, leveraging our teams’ capabilities and expanding the Consumer Health business profitably,” commented Belén Garijo, Member of the Executive Board of Merck.

“The marketed portfolios, product pipelines and geographic footprints of both businesses are highly complementary. With this transaction, we continue to rigorously deliver on our strategy to become a global specialty innovator and bring breakthrough medicines to patients.”

 “The divestment of the Consumer health business is an important step in Merck’s strategic focus on innovation driven businesses within Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials. It is a clear demonstration of our continued commitment to actively shape our portfolio as a leading science and technology company,” noted Merck chairman and CEO Stefan Oschmann. 

“Consumer Health is a strong business that deserves the best possible opportunities for its future development. With P&G we have found a strong, highly recognized player who has the necessary scale to successfully drive the business going forward.”

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Jun 14, 2021

Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies

#longcovid
#digitaltherapy
#neuroplasticity
#covid19
4 min
Neuroplasticity expert Ashok Gupta tells us about the symptoms of long Covid, how it affects the brain, and digital therapies

It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain. 

Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain. 

What is long Covid exactly? 

Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.

How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!

When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover. 

If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus. 

The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.

What symptoms does this cause? 

These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.

In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.

This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.

How does long-haul Covid affect mental health? 
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.

How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.” 

We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain. 

We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and  running half marathons again.

At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response. 

The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival. 

What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid? 
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy. 

What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and  become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.

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