Life Sciences Mergers, Acquisitions at Tipping Point

Updated on November 11, 2015

Ninety-four percent of life sciences companies are planning an acquisition in the next year, with more than two-thirds targeting personalized medicine

A global study of 100 senior executives at life sciences companies by global law firm Reed Smith, in partnership with Mergermarket, reveals that 94% are planning to make an acquisition in the next year, with 91% of US respondents expecting these to be cross-border transactions.

The report, Life lines: Life sciences M&A and the rise of personalized medicine, explores the main drivers behind the pursuit of cross-border life sciences deals, the challenges faced in executing those deals, and how advances in personalized medicine may change the face of the industry.

The first six months of 2015 saw $164.3bn worth of deals in the life sciences sector – an increase of almost 53% on last year – while the second half of 2015 began with a burst of new transaction announcements. These included the Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical’s $40.5bn purchase of the generics division of Allergan, a US-based pharma company – the largest deal announced so far in 2015. The US saw the lion’s share of deal value in the sector, with 82 US-targeted deals announced in the first half of 2015, worth over $112bn.

“Businesses are getting more strategic about where they want to focus – they have money on the balance sheet that they want to put to use for shareholders; they’re looking for ways to add value,” said Reed Smith’s Diane Frenier, a life sciences corporate partner.

Over the next 12 months, US companies intend to increase investment in marketing/distribution (29% of respondents), as well as clinical trials (21%) and late-stage R&D (18%). The greatest challenges to growth are changes in healthcare policy/reimbursement (29%) and high drug development costs (24%).

Another trend identified in the survey is the growing role of personalized medicine in life science companies’ strategies. More than two-thirds (70%) of respondents cite businesses that have a focus on personalized medicine as an area where they will increasingly look to make acquisitions.

Despite a continued focus on the development of broad application pharmaceuticals, companies recognize that personalized medicine offers the promise of higher returns even though the patient population is much smaller. “The future of medicine is to have the right medicine for the right patient and the right dose at the right time,” says Carol Loepere, Reed Smith partner in Washington D.C. and chair of Reed Smith’s Life Sciences Health Industry Group.

Nick Cheek, global managing editor of Remark, the events and publications division of the Mergermarket Group, adds: “The M&A boom in the life sciences sector looks set to continue. Deal volumes are on track to beat 2014, itself the busiest year for transactions since the financial crisis seven years ago. Despite considerable uncertainty, transactions will continue apace, as life sciences companies work out where the pieces will fall for their strategies – and seek to build organisations that are fit for this purpose.”

About Life lines

Life lines is the second of a series of four reports in Reed Smith’s Deal Dimensions series. For the report, Mergermarket surveyed 100 senior corporate executives (CEO, CIO, and Director of Strategy) at life sciences companies across APAC, North America and Europe. The representation by company size is $100m-1bn (34%), $1bn-5bn (33%) and $5bn+ (33%).

To view the full report, please visit:

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