Santen Pharmaceutical agreed to pay at least $600 million in exchange for rights to sell Merck & Co.'s ophthalmology products in Japan and certain markets in Europe and the Asia-Pacific area. Merck, which could earn additional sales-based milestone fees in the future from Santen, will continue to sell its eye products in other markets, including Latin America and the Middle East. "The decision to divest our ophthalmics business is part of our ongoing strategy to sharpen our commercial focus and improve our operational effectiveness," said Jay Galeota, Merck's president for hospital and specialty care.

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