German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, the maker of Aspirin painkiller, said it will acquire the consumer care business of Merck Co in the US for $14.2 billion.

"Bayer has agreed to acquire the consumer care business of US pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., for a purchase price of $14.2 billion (€10.4 billion)," the German group said.

"This acquisition marks a major milestone on our path towards global leadership in the attractive non-prescription medicines business," said chief executive Marijn Dekkers.  

The purchase will make Bayer the world's second-biggest maker of over-the-counter (OTC) or non-prescription products, it said.

Merck & Co's consumer care business includes leading brands such as Claritin, Coppertone and Dr Scholl's.

Pro-forma sales of the combined businesses in 2013 amounted to $7.4 billion (€5.5 billion) with Merck & Co's business contributing approximately $2.2 billion.

"With this transaction, we are acquiring leading product brands that will make Bayer the OTC leader in North America and Latin America and also move us into top global positions in key OTC product categories," said the head of Bayer's healthcare division, Olivier Brandicourt.