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American Home Products Corp.'s hostile $8.5 billion bid for American Cyanamid is one of the largest offers for any company in years and won't be the drug industry's last.

Others said to be considering offers for American Cyanamid include SmithKline Beecham, discussing a swap of assets; Ciba-Geigy Corp.; Bayer; Sandoz Pharmaceuticals; and Glaxo Holdings.

The takeover attempt is the latest and one of the most dramatic in a series of mergers, acquisitions and alliances reshaping the drug industry in the new, less profitable age of healthcare reform.

Executives at both American Home Products and American Cyanamid declined comment. American Cyanamid said in a statement it "has been considering a number of strategic alternatives in light of the dramatic changes occurring in the healthcare industry."

Although best known for its pharmaceutical products, American Cyanamid's handful of consumer healthcare brands could be valuable assets to American Home Products. Its Lederle Consumer Health division markets the No. 1 vitamin brand, Centrum, and created the first antioxidant formulation, Protegra. Lederle's Fibercon brand is the No. 2 bulk laxative.

"Centrum has a great consumer database it's been building since the mid-'80s, and the right agency and marketing group could make great use of it," noted Burt Flickinger III, management consultant at A.T. Kearney, New York.

Centrum, under pressure from private labels, spent $17 million on advertising in 1993.

Carrafiello-Diehl & Associates, Irvington, N.Y., is American Cyanamid's agency of record.

Young & Rubicam, New York, is American Home Products' lead agency. AHP spent $281 million advertising its consumer brands in 1993, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"American Home is more marketing and sales driven than Cyanamid has been," said Gary Stibel, president of the New England Consulting Group, Westport, Conn. "If they get Cyanamid, one of the benefits is likely to be greater marketing support."

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