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Big biopharma merger

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Another big merger deal in the news today and it comes from the pharmaceutical sector. Britain’s AstraZeneca has agreed to buy MedImmune and will pay $15.6 billion. Andrew Jack is a pharmaceutical reporter with the Financial Times. I asked him why this is a good deal for AstraZeneca.

ANDREW JACK: It’s had a number of stumbles, most recently one experimental drug in phrase three, so the final stage trials, that it finally binned today. And so it’s been pretty desperate I think to bring in some deals, both licensing deals and acquisitions to fill that pipe and to try to fight off patent expirees on existing medicines over the next few.

THOMAS: What’s in MedImmune’s pipeline?

JACK: Well MedImmune’s perhaps most interesting for a number of vaccine products that it’s got already on the market. And more generally it’s got a quite good platform of biological medicines that Astra hopes to use and expand and synergize with its existing but fairly small product range in biological medicines at is diversifies away from a traditional small molecule chemical strong pipe.

THOMAS: Is this kind of deal rare in the pharma business?

JACK: I think a deal of this sort of price tag is relatively rare. What we saw in the 1990s and maybe still at the turn of the decade was mega-mergers to create these really large, global pharmaceutical companies. And what we’re seeing more and more is larger and medium-sized companies opting for in-licensing agreements on particular promising products rather than going for mega-deals. So it stands out.

THOMAS: Thanks so much Andrew.

JACK: Thank you.

THOMAS: Andrew Jack is a pharmaceutical reporter with the Financial Times.

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