With the Patent Cliff looming and the lack of new drugs to fill the void keeping big Pharma bosses awake at night, we are seeing new strategies emerging in an attempt to off see the gloom and doom predictions of some Pharma theorists. One such strategy is the utilization of opportunities presented by small and mid-sized Pharma companies who specialise in new drug development and niche markets.
One opportunity has been seized by big Pharma company, Bristol-Myers Squibb, through its recent acquisition of Inhibitex, a biopharmaceutical company, at a cost of US$2.5 billion. Inhibitex is currently developing a promising new hepatitis C drug, which though currently only in Phase II development has shown great potential. With over 150 million people worldwide suffering from hepatitis C and over 75% of liver disease being attributed to the illness, producing an effective drug to combat or manage the disease is foremost in the mind of the Pharma industry today; and Bristol-Myers Squibb is not alone. Only last November, Gilead Sciences, Inc agreed to pay US$11 billion for Pharmasset, Inc, another company refocusing on the development of further hepatitis C treatments and with Merck, Vertex and Johnson & Johnson also rumoured to be targeting the hepatitis C market, we can see that big Pharma are on the hunt.
Laura Mole, a member of MAB’s Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Sector team says, “This latest acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb is living proof that the industry is changing and big Pharma are almost panic buying in order to build and diversify their portfolios. This is shown by the acquisition of not only market ready products but also drugs still in the development stages. It is clear that with the Patent Cliff threatening, and with Bristol-Myers Squibb itself to fall victim with its soon-to-expire patent protection on blockbuster drug Plavix, any opportunity to grow and protect will be taken. Small/mid sized Pharma had better be ready for the bidding war to come.”