Norwest Equity Partners said Monday it bought Apothecary Products Inc., a step by the Minneapolis-based private equity firm to expand its consumer health care portfolio.

Apothecary Products makes and distributes pharmacy supplies and consumer health care products such as prescription bottles and pill-cutting trays. The Burnsville-based company employs about 250 people and has annual sales of about $90 million.

Norwest Equity bought Apothecary from its founder and CEO Terry Noble, a pharmacist who started the company in 1975. Noble invented the Reconstitube, a device for diluting antibiotics, according to the company's website.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The sale closed Friday, Norwest Equity said.

Norwest Equity is the middle-market investment arm of Wells Fargo & Co. and the state's largest private equity firm. It said Apothecary had hundreds of patents and sells to independent and chain pharmacies, mass retailers and distributors and wholesalers around the world.

Noble said he will remain as an Apothecary investor and that Norwest Equity's investment capital and experience with consumer health care products will help Apothecary continue to grow and innovate.

Apothecary President Ron Barg said he doesn't expect the new ownership to make significant operational changes. "I would anticipate, at least in the near term, maybe a 5 percent increase in employment," he said.

Apothecary has a plant in St. Charles, Mich., and a joint venture partnership near Hong Kong that handles a "significant amount" of its global manufacturing, Barg said. Apothecary has nearly 90 percent market share in plastic pill boxes, he said.

"The baby boomers are a big part of our customer base," said Barg. "There's a big trend out in the industry yet that people don't take their medications on an on-time basis."

Additional financing for buying Apothecary was provided by GE Capital, BMO Capital Markets, Golub Capital and Norwest Mezzanine Partners.