IN BRIEF : Zantac wins over-the-counter clearance

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Glaxo Wellcome, the pharmaceuticals group, has won regulatory approval for its non-prescription version of Zantac, its anti-heartburn treatment. The clearance opens up a new market for Zantac, competing with rival treatments such as Pepcid, produced by Merck, and Tagamet, from SmithKline Beecham.

Glaxo will market the drug in its lower-dosage Zantac 75 form. Zantac, which is the world's biggest-selling prescription medicine and is used in the treatment of ulcers, should be available in the US early next year. It will be sold through Warner Lambert, Glaxo Wellcome's US joint venture. The announcement comes a day after Glaxo announced it was selling its half-share in Warner Wellcome, the group that markets cough and cold cures such as Actifed. Warner Lambert is paying pounds 682m for the share.