Reckitt Benckiser prepares to sell pharmaceuticals unit

British consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser, yesterday said that it is reviewing all options for its pharmaceuticals unit, effectively putting a sale sign for the business which analysts say may fetch over $3 billion.

Reckitt, which makes Dettol disinfectants, Durex condoms and Nurofen painkillers, said that the review of its pharmaceuticals division, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals (RBP) may take ''some time'' and plans to update investors during 2014.

RBP's main business is Suboxone, a heroin-addiction treatment drug that Reckitt in recent years has started selling in a film-strip format that dissolves in the mouth.

Suboxone was the first opioid medication approved under DATA 2000 for the treatment of opioid dependence.

RBP had initially made the drug in tablet form, but after its patent expired, it started selling the drug in film-strip format claiming that addicts used to dissolve the tablet and inject it.

After the US regulators in February approved two cheaper generic versions of the drug in tablet form, Suboxone revenue plunged by 14 per cent in the third quarter  to £190 million.

Rakesh Kapoor, CEO of Reckitt, had earlier said that the right time to consider options for RBP would be after the launch of cheap, generic versions of Suboxone tablets.

Reckitt will not sell its consumer medicines such as Mucinex, Nurofen, Gaviscon and Strepsils.