Sanofi almost beats Pfizer at M&A

Anyone who's been paying attention to the pharma business this year suspects that drugmakers are on a bigger-than-usual shopping spree. Now we know just how much bigger, thanks to Life Science Analytics. Pharma M&A is up by 20 percent so far this year as drugmakers scramble to refill depleted pipelines, push into emerging markets and diversify beyond prescription drugs, all in the name of combating the ongoing loss of sales to new generic versions of blockbuster meds.

Pfizer topped the list of dealmaking drugmakers with 51 transactions as of October. As Life Science Analytics President Sarah Terry notes, that's not super-surprising; after all, Pfizer is the biggest Big Pharma on the planet. But second-place Sanofi-Aventis and third-place Novartis are just a couple of hair's-breadths away from that top slot; Sanofi racked up 50 deals, while Novartis managed 49. "Sanofi-Aventis is ... most worthy of note," Terry said in a statement. "The company rose to second place from 14th last year, and is just one deal away from being at the top."

Top 10 Pharma Dealmakers

Rank Company Number of deals
1 Pfizer 51
2 Sanofi-Aventis 50
3 Novartis 49
4 Roche 46
5 GlaxoSmithKline 44
6 Bayer 31
7 Teva Pharmaceuticals 30
8 AstraZeneca 25
9 Abbott Laboratories 20
10 Eli Lilly 18
10 Johnson & Johnson 18
10 Merck 18

Chart courtesy of Datamonitor

As you can see, however, fourth and fifth place buyers Roche and GlaxoSmithKline weren't far away from the top, either; the numbers drop off substantially after the top five, with Bayer chalking up 31 deals. Generics giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries beat out several Big Pharma firms for seventh place with 30 deals; given the snowball-rolling-downhill nature of generics sales these days -- and Teva's big goals for growth--that's probably not too shocking.

- see the release from Life Science Analytics