Specialty pharma set to pick up the dealmaking pace after price-hike hiatus: Moody's

The specialty pharmacy space has been in somewhat of a rut when it comes to M&A--but that won’t last, Moody’s says.

Look for specialty players to “return to more active M&A” going forward, SVP Michael Levesque wrote in the company’s recently released Healthcare Quarterly report. And look for them to snatch up more innovative drugs than they have in the past.

The reason? Politicians, the public and the media alike have been closely watching the sector’s M&A strategy over the past several months. You know the one, made famous by Valeant and Martin Shkreli’s Turing: Buy a product and immediately turn around and send its list price soaring.

It’s landed several others besides Valeant and Turing in trouble--see: Horizon, Mallinckrodt--and now specialty drugmakers, who typically made “limited investments in internal R&D,” are ready to change their ways, Levesque says.

Dublin drugmakers Jazz and Horizon have already spearheaded the movement, he points out, with their respective $1.5 billion pickup of Celator and $800 million acquisition of Raptor. “We anticipate more deals of this variety,” he wrote.

One specialty player who won’t be getting back in on the M&A action? Valeant. The Canadian drugmaker has pledged to stay away from the dealmaking table in an effort to get its debt--piled up sky-high after years of rampant dealmaking under former CEO J. Michael Pearson--under control. In the meantime, though, it hasn’t steered completely clear of price hikes: Earlier this year, the company announced it would be jacking some list prices up by between 2% and 9%.

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Short-seller Andrew Left puts Mallinckrodt and its Acthar pricing on the spot--again
Thanks, Turing. Your 5000% price hike puts pharma in the election hot seat