BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) _ King Pharmaceuticals Inc. has sold its animal drug line to rival Virbac Corp. for $15.1 million in cash, the companies announced Tuesday.

Bristol-based King's veterinary products line generated sales of $5.7 million in 2002, led by Soloxine, the leading thyroid hormone replacement drug for dogs.

Other King products acquired by Virbac are Pancrezyme, used to treat pancreatic enzyme insufficiency in dogs; Tumil-K, a feline supplement for low blood potassium levels; and Uroeze and Ammonil, for bladder stones in dogs and urinary tract inflammation in cats.

The transaction includes unfilled customer orders, inventories, manufacturing equipment and intellectual property.

In addition, Fort Worth, Texas-based Virbac acquired King registrations for Soloxine and Tumil-K in Canada and assumed a distribution agreement for Soloxine, Tumil-K and Uroeze in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The deal ``represents the completion of yet another step in Virbac's growth strategy as we continue our expansion in the U.S. companion animal veterinary pharmaceutical market,'' said Thomas L. Bell, Virbac president and CEO.

Jefferson Gregory, King chairman and CEO, said the sale was part of King's ``previously announced strategy to divest products that are not strategic to our business plan.''

Shares of King were down 3 cents to $15.64 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Virbac were up 8 cents to $6.63 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.


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