The European Commission (EC) has approved the previously announced acquisition of Viatris’ European over-the-counter (OTC) business by Cooper Consumer Health.

The approval is subject to full compliance with the commitments offered by the firms.

Viatris’ European OTC division offers an array of pharmaceutical products focused on personal hygiene.

France-based Cooper, which is owned by CVC Capital Partners, collaborates with various other CVC portfolio companies in the manufacturing and distribution of OTC, consumer health, and consumer self-care products.

Cooper offered to acquire the European OTC assets of Viatris in late 2023 for about $2.17bn.

The European Commission said that its investigation revealed that the deal, as originally reported, would have diminished competition in specific pharmaceutical markets. These include infants’ laxative enemas in Portugal and earwax removal products in Germany.

The regulator found that the transaction would have resulted in significant combined market shares and more concentration levels in the impacted markets.

Furthermore, the EC concluded that deal would leave too few potential competitors to apply the necessary competitive pressure on the enlarged entity.

To resolve the regulator’s competition concerns, the parties have proposed divesting Cooper’s rights, title, and interests in its infant laxative medicine Bebegel. This includes the rights for development, manufacturing, and marketing of Bebegel in Portugal, and optionally in France.

Both companies have also agreed to sell Cooper’s rights, title, and interests in its earwax removal product Otowaxol. This includes the rights for development, manufacturing, and marketing of product in Germany, and optionally in Ireland.

The EC said that these commitments address the competition issues by enabling new competitors to enter and expand within these product markets, thereby supporting increased competition.

The regulator ruled that the transaction no longer raises competition concerns with these modifications after getting positive feedback during the market test.

EC Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “Competitive pharmaceutical markets are crucial to ensure affordable access to medicines.

“The remedies offered by Viatris and Cooper will ensure that competition on these markets remains effective and that, ultimately, consumers in Portugal and Germany do not end up paying higher prices for certain pharmaceutical products.”