Biotech Voices, M&A, Pharma

Whale watching: What a decade of change at Big Pharma taught us about corporate phenotypes

Contributed by Forbion Authored by Ivan Burkov1,2, Asiya Giniatullina1, Geert-Jan Mulder1, Sander van Deventer1,3,4 Affiliations: 1: Forbion; 2: Inkef Capital; 3: uniQure biopharma BV; 4: Leiden University Medical Center

Confronted with decreasing R&D productivity and scarcity of true new blockbusters, pharmaceutical companies continuously seek growth opportunities by adopting new organizational structures and business strategies. These changes can be distinguished into global adaptive trends within the industry, such as the development of transformative therapies for rare diseases, and pharma-specific approaches, for instance the choice between relying on organic growth or increasing partnering and business development activities.

Understanding the drivers behind strategic changes within the pharmaceutical industry is of significant interest to numerous stakeholders, including venture capitalists. Therefore, we have attempted to capture and explain recent key change events for several companies within the big pharma league. This “whale watching” exercise has revealed interesting insights regarding the industry and helped us to identify key behavioral patterns of big pharma companies.

In our analysis, we have studied a representative sample of some of the largest multinational public pharma companies, looking at three key types of events that happened over the past decade: mergers and acquisitions (M&A), divestments, and key corporate development events (such as restructuring and strategy shifts). We have made use of the Global Data and publicly available resources to compile the dataset. Below we describe our findings and discuss their relevance in light of the ongoing evolution of the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

Mergers and acquisitions

Since several companies (such as Bayer, J&J or Roche) in our selection have business units or subsidiaries that operate beyond pharmaceutical and biotech business, we decided to analyze both overall and pharma/biotech specific deal-making trends. In both analyses, cumulative M&A activity within our sample was relatively stable within the 11-year period studied, with two notable dips around 2013 and 2017 and a spike in 2015 (see Fig. 1 and Fig.2)

Fig. 1. Completed pharma/biotech M&A deals, 2008-2018, accounted by the announcement date


In order to read this article, you must be an Endpoints News subscriber. (It's free to subscribe.)

← Go back

We produce two daily email newsletters designed to give you a complete picture of what's important in biopharma. It's free to subscribe and never any spam. Join 51,200+ biopharma executives who read Endpoints News every day.

Access is subject to the terms in our Privacy Policy.


The best place to read Endpoints News? In your inbox.

Comprehensive daily news report for those who discover, develop, and market drugs. Join 51,200+ biopharma pros who read Endpoints News by email every day.

Free Subscription

VP Oncology Biology
Skyhawk Therapeutics Waltham, MA
Associate Director CMC
Elektroki Boston, MA
Director Process Development
Elektroki Boston, MA
Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT

Visit Endpoints Careers ->