Business & finance Pharma & drug development

Are the rules being tightened on pharma M&A?

The US Federal Trade Commission has initiated a multilateral working group to update standards and ensure that mergers and acquisitions in the pharma sector are properly regulated. The group will work to identify “concrete and actionable steps” to review and update the analysis of pharma mergers. Abi Millar profiles the implications of stricter enforcement in this area. 

The last few years have seen a wave of pharma mergers and acquisitions (M&A). In 2019, Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired Celgene, to the tune of $74bn. A few months later, AbbVie completed its $63bn acquisition of Allergan, which was followed by the merger between Pfizer’s Upjohn business and generics company Mylan. AstraZeneca rounded off 2020 by announcing the $39bn takeover of Alexion. 

While global M&A activity was dampened during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was almost business as usual for the pharma industry, which supplemented these ‘mega-mergers’ with a number of smaller ‘bolt-on’ deals. In particular, pharma companies have been buying up tech companies, along with emerging biotechs specialising in cell and gene therapies and oncology. 

This year also looks to be a busy one for M&A, as in-person deal-making returns and the industry rebounds. According to PwC, we can expect to see up to $275bn in deals for the life sciences sector in 2021 – an increase on the more muted $184bn in 2020.

Read the rest of this article in the July 2021 edition of Pharma Technology Focus

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