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Mentor Plots Cosmetic Change

One question posed during a telephone conference Monday was whether Mentor might make a hostile run at Medicis. Mentor CEO Levine declined to comment, saying only that his company "will wait for the dust to settle" before making the next step. The offer to Medicis was the only way to get that company's attention because of its dealing with Inamed, Levine said.

Medicis shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Inamed deal on Dec. 19. The transaction is under review by the Federal Trade Commission.

Mentor's Dilemma

Mentor's future appeal to investors will depend on how fast it gets U.S. approval for silicone breast implants for cosmetic uses, what price it gets for the urology businesses and how it can expand its presence in the skin-treatment market. Buying Medicis would easily answer the skin-care question.

Inamed and Mentor are dueling to be first on the U.S. market with silicone gel breast implants for cosmetic purposes. Both have received conditional approval from the Food and Drug Administration for their products, but they haven't said what they must do to secure final approval.

In the past, analysts speculated that the company getting to the market first would have an advantage, but now many believe the FDA will grant final approval at essentially the same time.

Mentor says a merger with Medicis will enable their combined sales forces to increase product offerings to cosmetic surgeons and dermatology specialists.

Because so-called aesthetics medicine is a "significant growth opportunity," Mentor said last month that it was evaluating alternatives for its urology business, meaning that if the price is right, it will sell.

Mentor's urology businesses, including urinary catheters, erectile dysfunction products and prostate cancer products, yielded $116.7 million in sales for the six months ended Sept. 30. Aesthetics products, mainly breast implants, but also skin and body products, delivered $132.8 million.

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