Every year, we take a look back at the news and analysis our readers visited most, and some trends naturally emerge: deals, people and cuts.
Drama, in other words, and this year's batch alone brought 260,000 people to FiercePharma in 2017. The list predictably starts with megamerger talk, a perennial fave. Also not a surprise is Teva's appearance, given the storm of news out of HQ this year.
We've gathered the rest of our top five below, but we can't skip the next five, or the most-read special reports of 2017. The latter are the biggest draw year after year, and many of you come back time after time to check the stats.
No single prospective megamerger target attracted more attention than Bristol-Myers Squibb. With its shares down and some Big Pharmas soon to be flush with tax-reform cash, talk circled over and over, some of it frankly ludicrous. Witness our biggest story of the year, covering rumors that Pfizer, Roche and Novartis were at least crunching numbers about a match.
That field quickly narrowed to Pfizer, which surfaced again and again as a BMS suitor. It's logical, at least. Pfizer has said it wouldn't be averse to a megadeal, and it's got the financial wherewithal to pull one off. Plus, history shows the pharma giant is perfectly willing to integrate a sizable addition. Analysts have floated the idea repeatedly. In sixth place this year was some back-and-forth about whether Pfizer was actually—or should actually—make a move.
But then there was AstraZeneca. Its helmsman, Pascal Soriot, reportedly was considering a move to Teva, where he'd take the reins for a major turnaround. That talk, sourced to multiple Teva execs and staffers, touched off some consternation among AZ investors—and talk that a megamerger could be in the offing if Soriot left. He stayed. Teva hired ex-Lundbeck chief Kåre Schultz instead.
Which brings us to job cuts. News that Merck was rearranging its sales force, with 1,800 jobs destined for the ax, was the second most-read of the year. But it was Teva's impending cuts that had readers following every story with a hint of layoffs. One of them—news of manufacturing plant shutdowns and thousands of layoffs—came in eighth on our list. Since August, when that story was published, Teva has announced its cuts, and they eclipsed anything analysts had predicted at 14,000 jobs and facility closures around the globe. All that coverage together would hit our top three.
In the people category, we had a look at Novartis' incoming chief Vas Narasimhan, M.D., the company's top R&D exec. The Swiss drugmaker has plenty of challenges ahead, including fielding the marketing and production challenges posed by its CAR-T approval. An AstraZeneca exec's jump to GSK got testy, and in a twofer of news, Teva accused a former executive of handing off trade secrets to her boyfriend, who happened to be CEO of a rival drugmaker. And then there's President Donald Trump. His accusation that pharma was "getting away with murder" came in fourth place.
Finally, a subject dear to every pharma, and especially to Eli Lilly. The company forestalled generic versions of its erectile dysfunction drug Cialis via a patent settlement with multiple copycat drugmakers. At the time, Lilly had reaped $17 billion off Cialis in its lifetime.
Patents came in high among our special reports, too. One of the most difficult reports to pull off because of constant patent litigation and only partial help from FDA's Orange Book, it was our third most-read ranking of the year. (Another tough one, thanks to sometimes opaque proxy filings—highest-paid biophama executives—only just missed the top five.)
Everyone likes a list, so here we go with the rest of our biggest rankings of 2017. The top 15 pharma companies, ranked by 2016 revenue, easily brought in the most traffic of the year. Though to be frank, it had an advantage: It ran in January. Our Fiercest Women in Life Sciences report—which brought in almost 1,000 nominations from readers—quickly leaped to fourth place among 2017's special reports.
Everyone loves a launch, too, and that's why the top 10 launches of the year scored a second-place slot in traffic. The top drug on that report? Roche's MS drug Ocrevus. We'll let you check out the other nine.
The last one we'll mention is our third most-read ranking: Top 15 best-selling cancer drugs in 2022. No question, oncology is the hottest field in biopharma these days. Putting out odds on which drugs are in the lead sends analysts to their spreadsheets over and over.
Speaking of nominations, we'll take suggestions for top 10 lists to delve into next year—and news tips, for that matter. Here's where to find all of us, FiercePharma and FierceBiotech alike. In the meantime, enjoy your holidays and check our website for developments next week. We won't be sending regular newsletters, but we won't be ignoring the news, either. Here's to a productive 2018.