All things being relative, 2013 was a pretty good year for M&A in pharma. There were 169 deals valued at $76 billion last year, according to the information ninjas who dice the numbers at EvaluatePharma. That was a 15% jump in the number of deals and a 33% increase in the dollars spent compared to 2012. Analysts had expected as much from 2013, however, because 2012 was the low point for M&A in many years.
Even with the upward trend, 2013 pales compared to the halcyon years from 2008 to 2010. Of course, the monster dollars of those years, which you can see in the chart, often came from one or two big deals. Roche paid $46 billion for Genentech in 2009. Then in the record year of 2010, Pfizer bought Wyeth for $68 billion, and Merck bought Schering-Plough for $41 billion. Finally, in 2011, Novartis snatched Alcon for $37 billion. By comparison, the biggest deal in 2013 was a third that size, and then it was pulled off by a big biotech. Amgen bought Onyx for $10.4 billion.
There has been talk in recent years about how the industry should expect fewer blockbusters and how drugmakers need to look toward selling more products for fewer dollars, euros, pounds or yen. But it is the big sellers, the blockbusters--no, megablockbusters--that drug execs aspire to develop. And a look at the top 10 best-selling drugs globally can't help but impress with its big numbers.
First of all, each of the top 10 best-selling drugs in the world knocked out more than $5.5 billion in sales last year, according to data provided by the market intelligence gurus at EvaluatePharma. Together, the top 10 turned in $76.38 billion in sales. Yes, that's more than $75 billion in sales from just 10 products. One other drug, Eli Lilly's Cymbalta, topped the $5 billion mark, but having lost its patent in December, it's headed for a serious nosedive this year.
The earnings reports for the biggest of Big Pharma are all in. Bayer reported last week, making it possible to see how they stacked up as they came into the new year. There are no big surprises. Pfizer and Merck, with ongoing patent issues and reorganizations, saw their positions fall a couple of notches, and AbbVie, having been spun off from Abbott Laboratories at the beginning of the year, didn't quite make the top 10. Its disappearance allowed Eli Lilly to make the list. It also helped Bayer HealthCare move up a couple of notches.
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