Buyer: Gilead Sciences ($GILD)
Price: $11.2 billion
Closed: Jan. 17, 2012
Gilead's buyout of Pharmasset was the only deal to close last year that topped out at more than $10 billion. No others came close. There were plenty of critics who thought the price was in fact too rich, but they have gone quiet as Gilead keeps reporting promising results from the hepatitis C drug program at the center of the deal. CEO John Martin said Gilead plans to file an application for the drug this year.
In fact, Gilead has the most advanced program for an all-oral treatment against hep C in the U.S. with its once-daily nucleotide pill. The "nuc" can attack the disease without the nauseating side effects of interferon and doesn't require injections. Analysts see this category of drugs hitting $20 billion in annual sales, which could end up making the Pharmasset deal cheap, particularly if the science spins off other treatments.