Breakingviews

Pfizer’s pricey non-split may only defer problem

September 26, 2016

After years of study costing $600 mln, the drugmaker says it won't break itself up. Boss Ian Read always seemed keener on acquisitions. It's true the process helped close a conglomerate discount. But Pfizer's sprawl and tendency to overpay means the gap may soon reappear.

GSK tries out alternative medicine with new CEO

September 20, 2016

It's a logical move to name consumer head Emma Walmsley as the drugmaker's new chief executive. Pharma companies can learn a lot from the efficient personal care sector. Critics may see a doubling down on GSK’s HIV-to-Horlicks model, without a fix to its weaker pharma business.

Perrigo shows danger of overplaying M&A defense

September 13, 2016

The $13 bln drug company fought off Mylan's hostile takeover bid last year. Now it's missing the targets it set to persuade investors to reject the deal. It's a common infraction that in Perrigo's case has prompted activist Starboard to dive in. Overpromising is a fool's errand.

Drugmakers get their $2.3 bln worth in Washington

September 1, 2016

U.S. lawmakers are prodding Mylan about EpiPen in the latest probe into rising prescription prices. Dozens of legislative proposals to rein them in have stalled over the last decade. No industry spends more than pharma lobbying Congress. The investment now faces its biggest test.

Mylan injects adrenaline into healthcare debate

August 25, 2016

The EpiPen maker bowed to political pressure by offering discounts for its allergy treatment. The complex and opaque U.S. healthcare system may encourage high prices, but also doesn't force the likes of Mylan to jack them up. This episode does more to expose flaws than fix them.

Pfizer bets $14 bln it knows better than market

August 22, 2016

The drug giant is paying a 120 pct premium for Medivation. It's a good fit and the biotech's cancer blockbuster is a rare gem. The whopping premium suggests Pfizer sees something others missed. But a heated auction and back-of-the-envelope math hint that the buyer is overpaying.

Bristol-Myers suffers $21 bln self-inflicted wound

August 5, 2016

That's how much value investors wiped off the pharma firm after its trial to broaden the use of a cancer drug failed. It was an unnecessarily risky move for Bristol, whose immunotherapy has been outselling Merck's. The stumble will allow its more cautious rival to clean up.

Valeant may strain to engineer way out the in door

June 6, 2016

As the embattled drugmaker prepares to report its first results under a new CEO, it’s also seeking a new business model beyond acquisitions and price hikes. Financial razzmatazz sometimes works both ways, but Valeant’s debt and possible suitors could make it hard science.

J&J’s corpulence defense weighs heavy

June 2, 2016

The bulging healthcare conglomerate is swallowing hair-care firm Vogue for $3.3 bln in defiance of calls to break up. J&J’s $312 bln market value makes it a hard target for activists. Yet its obesity has created ailments from poor M&A digestion to mediocre shareholder returns.

Bayer’s Monsanto bid yields poor financial harvest

May 27, 2016

The German chemicals group’s rejected $62 bln offer for the seed maker already appeared to violate one of its key principles: stick to projects whose returns beat the cost of capital. Upping the price to win over Monsanto would take heroic sales-growth assumptions to stack up.