Pfizer breaks from merger mentality as others chase leads

Pfizer breaks from merger mentality as others chase leads
It was less than two years ago that the its review of its portfolio during the second half blockbusters coming off patent, either.” pharmaceutical giant Pfizer made headlines of the year and is still determining the optimal Meanwhile, some pharmaceutical companies when it acquired the drugmaker Wyeth for mix of businesses that it can appropriately fund in North America are setting their sights on a cool $68 billion. But these days Pfizer is and manage.
midsized generic firms in Central and Eastern generating a buzz for mulling over a different Europe and the Middle East. For example, way to bump up its bottom line: shedding Shop ’til you drop
Canadian drugmaker Valeant recently bought some of its nonpharmaceutical divisions. The Breaking up is hard to do, they say. As such, it’s out Lithuania’s Sanitas, and New Jersey–based potential plan has not won over all industry perhaps not surprising that many companies Watson Pharmaceuticals purchased Greece’s analysts, some of whom say that scooping up are continuing the shopping spree, looking for Specifar. By setting up shop in other nations, smaller companies with strong drug pipelines— firms to snatch up. Mergers and acquisitions US-based companies can tap into emerging particularly those in developing markets—stil continue to remain attractive to companies markets more effectively, says Damien Conover, seeking to bolster their product pipeline—and an analyst at Morningstar, headquartered The takeover of Genzyme by Sanofi this save money by consolidating resources and in Chicago. “The growth in some of these past spring was only the latest in a string of staff. “The biggest advantage in the near term international markets is stronger than the companies combining, going back to the is economies of scale,” Amsellem says. “Big growth potential in the US right now.” Merck-Schering-Plough and Roche-Genentech pharma has been active on the mergers and But, given the lack of suitable candidates fusions in 2009. These strategic rearrangements acquisitions front, and I would expect that to overseas, the trend will probably not continue of industry titans have largely been a response continue.” indefinitely, says Lindsay Meyer, an investment to looming patent losses. Over the next two There were hints that the spate of major analyst at Canaan Partners in Menlo Park, years, patents will expire on more than a dozen mergers is not over when, in early May, California. “This is not sustainable, and the blockbuster drugs with combined annual sales Marijn Dekkers, chief executive officer of the appetite for these companies will eventual y go of about $50 billion, according to the research German drug giant Bayer, mentioned that he away because the supply is so constrained.” organization EvaluatePharma in London.
would consider strengthening the company’s Whether the future will bring more mergers Notably, New York–based Pfizer will bear healthcare unit by acquiring another drugmaker or a deluge of divestitures remains uncertain. the brunt of the so-called ‘patent cliff’ this that generates similar earnings. Dekkers stated Amsellem, for his part, notes the two trends year, when it loses its exclusivity rights for the on 3 May on Bloomberg television show “Fast may occur in parallel. “Right now, I think the cholesterol fighter Lipitor (atorvastatin)—the Forward” that he’d be open to a merger “if the industry is trying to find its way in this new best-selling medication in the US—and the stars were to be aligned.” He tendered that Bayer world order,” he says. “One thing I can tell you antacid Protonix (pantoprazole). More than was coming from a position of strength, saying: with almost certainty is that it’s not going to two thirds of the company’s portfolio—worth “We have a relatively good pipeline compared look the same two to three years from now.” more than $35 billion—will be at risk in the with the rest of the industry, and we don’t have Janelle Weaver
next three years owing to patent expirations, A shortage link?
by becoming a leaner machine and focusing on neuroscience, vaccines and other core On 19 May, US senator Herb Kohl, a Democrat representing Wisconsin, sent a letter to therapeutic areas with the greatest growth the chairman of the country’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to urge the agency to potential according to David Amsellem, a examine the effect of mergers in the pharmaceutical industry on the nation’s drug supply. New York–based analyst with Piper Jaffray. He In his letter, Kohl cites a recent Washington Post article reporting “an unprecedented cites Sanofi’s decision to sell its dermatology surge in drug shortages in the United States that is endangering cancer patients, heart business to focus on high-growth areas as an attack victims, accident survivors and a host of other ill people.” example of this type of strategy. “You’re going A record 211 medications became scarce last year, triple the number in 2006, and to see these kinds of transactions become at least 89 new shortages have emerged so far this year. “The megamergers of the past increasingly common,” says Amsellem.
decade may be contributing to these critical drug deficiencies,” Kohl states, adding that the disappearance of some companies and the restructuring of drug giants lead to divestment approach. “I doubt that Pfizer diminished production of older and less profitable products.
will split completely into component parts,” The US Food and Drug Administration has policies and procedures to deal with these says Jamie Davies, head of pharmaceuticals deficiencies—including importing medications from overseas when necessary. But, and healthcare analysis at Business Monitor in addition to these efforts, Kohl advises the FTC to take shortages into account when International in London. “This was enforcing antitrust laws.
speculation to test the market, which wasn’t Not everyone agrees that the senator’s take rings true. Lindsay Meyer, an analyst at overly favorable.” An analysis by Sector & Canaan Partners in Menlo Park, California, says, “I don’t think you can reduce this simply to consolidation in the industry.” The supply of drugs also depends on forecasts of future Connecticut, suggests that a Pfizer spin-off demand and relationships and contractual issues between hospitals and suppliers, that sel s off-patent and established products Meyer adds. “There are too many other factors to just boil it down to the pharmaceutical would fail because of a lack of revenue from new medicines. When contacted by Nature Janelle Weaver
Medicine, Pfizer said that it hopes to complete nature medicine volume 17 | number 7 | july 2011


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