SmithKline Beckman Corp. and Britain's Beecham Group PLC have agreed to merge to form the world's second-largest drug maker, the companies announced Wednesday.

The new SmithKline Beecham would have headquarters in London and offices in Philadelphia and have annual sales of about $6.7 billion.The deal would provide Beecham with better access to the U.S. and Japanese markets, two of Smith-Kline's strengths, officials said. SmithKline would gain from several promising prescription drugs being developed by Beecham.

The combined company would market Beecham over-the-counter drugs such as Tums antacids, Sucrets throat lozenges and Massengill feminine douche. SmithKline's non-prescription products include Contac cold medicine and Ecotrin pain reliever.

"Our vision has long been a global pharmaceutical and health care business that could rank among industry leaders," Harry Wendt, SmithKline Beckman's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

"SmithKline and Beecham come together in an excellent fit, with complementary product lines, (research and development) and geographic strengths."