Let’s Talk: Life Science Acquisitions and Mergers

2018 was a mixed bag for pharma mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A). There were 248 pharma and life sciences deals in total, but most of these happened in the first few months — the second half of the year was pretty uneventful. This year, though, experts are predicting healthier outcomes for M&A as science and healthcare companies penetrate new markets. Here are three massive M&A that have already happened.

1. Amgen-Nuevolution

When? May 2019
What? Acquisition
How Much? $167 million

Earlier this month, Biotech company Amgen acquired Copenhagen-based research institute Nuevolution — a specialist in drug discovery — for a cool $167 million in order to boost its own pharma operations. Once the announcement was made, shares of Nuevolution catapulted by more than 166 percent.

These two companies are no strangers — they have collaborated on commercial drug development in the past. Still, this acquisition is one of the biggest in the life and sciences sector this year, and it got everybody talking.

“That drug discovery platform is at the heart of Amgen’s decision to bring Nuevolution under its umbrella. The Chemetics platform is a DNA-encoded library drug discovery platform that enabled the ‘efficient discovery of novel small molecule drug candidates,'”says Biospace. “Through the rapid screening of billions of molecules, the company can more quickly identify drug candidates.”

2. Evotec SE-Just Biotherapeutics

When? May 2019
What? Acquisition
How Much? $90 million

Also this month, German company Evotec SE acquired Just Biotherapeutics (or Just.Bio) — a Seattle-based organization backed by the Bill & Melina Gates Foundation — for $90 million. This cash-only deal will provide Evotec with greater insights into therapeutical biologics, such as CNS, inflammation, oncology, and the like.

“The acquisition of Just.Bio will add considerable business opportunities for further acceleration of Evotec’s long-term strategy to be the industry partner of choice for external end-to-end innovation,” says Evotec.

Evotec is particularly keen on Justs.Bio’s technology platform, J.DESIGN, which optimizes the design and manufacturing of biologics drugs.

This isn’t Evotec’s only recent acquisition, either.

“The Hamburg-based firm has inked a number of deals in recent months, including an expanded partnership with Celgene (Nasdaq:CELG) and a dermatologicals deal with Denmark’s LEO Pharma,” says The Pharma Letter.

3.Celgene-Bristol-Myers Squibb

When? January 2019
What? Merger
How much? $74 billion

In one of the largest pharma deals in history, Celgene and Bristol-Myers Squibb joined forces for a massive $74 billion (or $95 billion when including Celgene’s debts). The merger will create a brand new biopharma company, and experts predict to achieve $2.5 billion of run-rate cost synergies by the year 2022.

“Together with Celgene, we are creating an innovative biopharma leader, with leading franchises and a deep and broad pipeline that will drive sustainable growth and deliver new options for patients across a range of serious diseases,” said Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO, Giovanni Caforio, M.D.

What Does the Future Hold?

These three M&A are just the tip of the iceberg — it’s been a big year for big deals in pharma and life sciences. The rest of 2019 looks promising, too. Large pharma companies need to replace aging franchises and technology and, as a result, are scouring for startups to acquire. Plus, across the industry, declining research and development (R&D) investments have freed up funds for therapeutic specialties, which should lead to even more M&A.

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