Over the past few years, the bottom-line number on R&D spending among the big 10 pharma companies--about $70 billion--has remained about the same. But behind the steady collective figure lies...
Merck has landed a priority review for its top drug prospect, the PD-1 cancer drug MK-3475, giving the FDA a deadline of October 28 for making the first big marketing decision on a new wave of immuno-oncology therapies that is expected to be a game changer in the oncology market.
Merck plans to use the proceeds of its planned $14.2 billion consumer business sale to Bayer to beef up its pipeline, and the in-transition pharma giant isn't wasting any time, signing a billion-dollar deal with its new partner in a move to get its hands on some new cardiovascular drugs.
And the winner is Bayer. After months of speculation--and reported bids from the likes of Sanofi, Novartis and Reckitt Benckiser--the German drugmaker has snagged Merck's consumer health unit in a $14.2 billion deal. The consumer buyout solidifies Bayer's position at the top of the global OTC game and provides Merck with a cardio collaboration--along with a hefty chunk of change.
Most drugmakers can only watch wistfully as sales of blockbusters fade into the horizon when generics come online. Merck had hoped to keep the memory of asthma drug Singulair's former stature alive by turning it into an over-the-counter (OTC) product. But an FDA panel of experts thinks that is too risky for consumers.
Sanofi, Merck, and Abbott Laboratories are all planning to sell off portfolios of drugs that have lost their patent protection. The proceeds from such sales could be significant--$7 billion for Sanofi, $15 billion for Merck, and $5 billion for Abbott. Add in AstraZeneca, whose CEO proposed deals for its neuroscience and anti-infectives businesses, and you have another $15 billion in potential proceeds--a total of $42 billion.
With Reckitt Beckiser out of the race for Merck's consumer health unit, Bayer is in exclusive talks with the New Jersey company, reports say, and it could have a $14 billion deal wrapped up in the next few days.
Merck and partner Endocyte have stopped a late-stage study of the ovarian cancer-treating vintafolide on the advice of a data safety monitoring board, saying the much-hyped drug failed to move the needle on progression-free survival.
With its consumer unit apparently on the verge of a sale, Merck is weighing its next asset disposal. Reuters sources say that the U.S.-based drugmaker may unload $15 billion worth of older drugs, in a move that would mirror previous sell-offs by GlaxoSmithKline--and an in-the-works Sanofi deal.
Despite a wave of M&A deals aimed at increasing efficiency and lowering expenses in the pharmaceutical industry, drug prices continue to rise, with several drug companies nearly doubling the costs of key products over the last 7 years. That's the conclusion of an analysis prepared for Bloomberg by DRX, a California-based provider of health software.