From drug company mergers to government watchdogs, important trends as the pharmaceutical industry balances the need for innovation with the need for financial support for that innovation are emerging this summer.
AbbVie announced the $63 billion acquisition of Allergan, which would make the new company a $48 billion enterprise.1 While AbbVie’s current top-selling drug is Humira (adalimumab), it has recently invested in neuroscience, investigating potential drugs for Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer disease. Meanwhile, Allergan has concentrated on oncology, virology, and neuroscience products. Allergan’s current neuroscience lineup includes Vraylar (cariprazine), Viibryd (vilazodone), Saphris (asenapine), Fetzima (levomilnacipran), Namenda (memantine), and Namzaric (memantine and donepezil).
The merger could have a positive impact on the psychiatric drug pipeline, which has been largely ignored in the recent past. In a note to investors, Canaccord Genuity analyst Sumant Kulkarni shared, “We are encouraged by the focus that ABBV [AbbVie] is placing on AGN [Allergan]’s neurology/psychiatry assets.”1 He added that the neuroscience market drugs could get more competitive because of this merger, since the combined companies are expected to invest in migraine and schizophrenia/bipolar depression candidates.
“We believe this deal brings some attention back to the scarcity value of later-stage/filed neuro-related assets,” Kulkarni wrote. “While several major pharmas have deemphasized neuroscience, ABBV is one that has a presence in neuroscience, which will get even larger if the AGN acquisition closes.”1
Other recent mergers include Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene, Pfizer and Array BioPharma, Eli Lilly and Loxo Oncology, and Roche and Spark Therapeutics.2
1. Philippidis A. AbbVie prepares for life after Humira with planned $63B Allergan acquisition. Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. 2019.
2. Herman B. With cash to burn, pharma deals are all the rage. Axios. 2019.
3. Smith A. 4 pharma companies accused of anti-competitive conduct. PharmaTimes Online. 2019.
4. Rep. Jeffries introduces bipartisan legislation to lower skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. Press release. 2019.
5. Weixel N. Trump officials seek plan B on drug pricing rule. The Hill. 2019.
6. Heath A. Pharma companies file lawsuit against HHS price transparency rule. Patient Engagement Hit. 2019.
7. Mineiro M. Judge blocks Trump move on prescription drug prices. Courthouse News Service. 2019.
8. Bulik BS. Judge blocks Trump move on prescription drug prices. FiercePharma. 2019.
9. PhRMA members take new approach to DTC television advertising. PhRMA press release. 2019.
10. Durbin-Grassley amendment passes Senate to take on big pharma. Chuck Grassley press release. 2019.
11. ANA hails court ruling blocking HHS price disclosure rule. ANA press release. 2019.