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Global pharma M&A in 2023

An analysis of global pharma M&A in 2023 shows that the post-pandemic market is poised for a revitalization.
Heejin Jung, R&D Strategy Team Lead
2024. 03. 085min read

Global Pharmaceutical M&A

During the covid-19 pandemic (2021-2022), the pharma bio M&A market was in a downturn, with deal volumes and deal sizes significantly reduced. In 2023, three $10 billion deals and a $40 billion deal are expected to be completed, raising expectations of a revitalized market.


56 M&A deals by global pharma companies in 2023

First, let's take a look at the 56 major M&A deals in the first half of the year, categorized into four disease areas (Oncology, Metabolic disorders, Immunology, Neurosciences, and Other).


1. Global Pharmaceutical Company M&A Ranking - Pfizer

The largest is the merger of 'Pfizer' and 'Seagen', which was announced as a $43 billion deal.



2. Global Pharmaceutical M&A Ranking - Ebby

The merger of 'Abbive' and 'ImmunoGen' is noteworthy. Abbive acquired ImmunoGen for approximately $10.1 billion, further strengthening its position in the anti-cancer space. ImmunoGen's ADC cancer drugs include ELAHERE (mirvetuximab soravtansine) for ovarian cancer and IMGN-151, a next-generation anti-FRα ADC, as well as Pivekimab, an anti-CD123 ADC targeting hematologic cancers, so this acquisition shows the potential for AbbVie to further expand its pipeline to include solid tumors and hematologic cancers.


3. Global Pharmaceutical Company M&A Ranking - Merck

Next on the list is the acquisition of Prometheus Biosciences by the pharmaceutical company 'Merck (MSD)' for $10.8 billion. The company targets monoclonal antibodies associated with inflammation and fibrosis in the gut, demonstrating its expansion into treatments for immune diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Although this is a single deal, it's a $10+ billion deal, so it's worth keeping an eye on Merck's development.


4. Global Pharmaceutical M&A Ranking - BMS

Although not a single transaction, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) is the second largest investor in M&A after Pfizer. The company has acquired three biotechs, strengthening its pipeline in the central nervous system (CNS) and oncology fields. Among them, Karuna Therapeutics has a first-in-class drug with potential for Alzheimer's disease psychosis and neuropsychiatric indications, which is expected to contribute significantly to BMS's revenue. In the oncology space, the company is looking to grow its anticancer business by acquiring Mirati Therapeutics, which has developed a KRAS inhibitor (Krazati, trade name: agagrasib).




5. Global Pharmaceutical M&A Ranking - Roche

'Roche' has declared that it will develop an obesity drug to fight against the obesity epidemic. The company acquired 'Carmot Therapeutics' for $2.7 billion to enter the GLP-1 obesity drug market. Carmot is currently developing CT-388, a once-weekly subcutaneous GLP-1/GIP receptor dual agonist, CT-996, a once-daily oral small molecule GLP-1 receptor agonist, and CT-868, a once-daily injectable GLP-1/GIP receptor dual agonist for type 1 diabetes.


6. Global Pharmaceutical M&A Ranking - Lilly

There are also companies that acquire multiple companies while adding to their diverse pipeline, albeit not in a $10 billion-plus deal. This is Lilly, which acquired four companies, adding to its diverse pipeline of solid cancer ADCs and radiopharmaceuticals, type 1 diabetes cell therapies, and oral IL-17 inhibitors. We are particularly excited about the potential of radiopharmaceutical therapies alone, and view the M&A as the beginning of an investment to develop meaningful radioligand medicines* for hard-to-treat cancers. .

  • Radio-Pharmaceuticals are specialty drugs manufactured by combining radioisotopes with pharmaceuticals. They can be utilized for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Diagnosis and treatment can be categorized according to the radioisotope, and the medicine acts as a carrier that leads to the target disease. It is characterized by low development cost and the ability to target cancer cells. Excellent antitumor efficacy can be expected due to its feature of causing minimal side effects due to damage to normal tissues.



7. Global Pharmaceutical M&A Ranking - Sanofi

Sanofi's high-profile acquisition of Provention Bio for $2.9 billion should also be noted. Sanofi has been a traditional leader in the diabetes treatment market, developing and supplying a variety of insulin treatment options to clinical sites around the world. More than 100 years after the introduction of insulin, Sanofi continues to be a global leader in diabetes treatment. More recently, as competition among global pharmaceutical companies has increased, Sanofi has decided not to develop new diabetes treatments. It will be interesting to see what Sanofi will do in the future by acquiring a company that has a treatment that delays type 1 diabetes.


Wrapping Up

In conclusion, global pharma M&A in 2023 was characterized by the highest number of deals in oncology and the largest deals for ADC companies. This analysis of M&A activity shows that the pharmaceutical market is in need of new modalities of drug delivery, and it is an opportunity to glimpse the potential of various treatment modalities such as radiopharmaceuticals. Even in the domestic pharmaceutical industry, we sometimes hear news of technology export and licensing out of substances, but it is still lacking compared to multinational pharmaceutical companies. If we learn more and gain experience by watching the decision-making of global pharmaceutical companies, we may be able to see some exciting new drug development news sooner or later.