Abbott Laboratories to keep vaccines division

Abbott Laboratories, a drug and medical device company, announced on September 3 that it no longer plans to sell its new vaccines division.

The decision to not sell the vaccines division comes only three months after Abbott Laboratories began exploring sales talks with rivals.

Abbott, based in North Chicago, originally acquired the division from Solvay Pharmaceuticals in February as part of a $6.2 billion purchase of the Belgian firm, according to the Associated Press.

Analysts believe that European vaccine makers GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Novartis AG would have been very interested in the unit, but Abbott appears intent on keeping it intact.

"We explored the option to potentially sell the business and determined it was in the best interest of Abbott and the vaccines business to retain it and integrate it into the company," Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffell told the Associated Press.

Solvay’s Influvac, a flu vaccine, was initially seen as a major incentive in the transaction, giving Abbott an entry into the European dominated market. Solvay’s vaccine sales were over $197 million last year.

Other companies have boosted vaccine spending in recent years to capitalize on new markets in India and China. Through Solvay, Abbott was able to acquire access to markets in Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Abbott has been aggressively acquiring other companies in the last two years as part of a diversification effort. Its other biotech acquisitions have included contact lens solution maker Advanced Medical Optics, Evalve, a maker of heart repair equipment, and Facet Biotech Corporation.