Pharma: Botox maker to sell for $63 billion
The maker of Botox is set to get a new owner this week after the latest blockbuster pharmaceuticals merger, said Cara Lombardo in The Wall Street Journal. The move by AbbVie to buy Dublin-based Allergan for $63 billion puts it in “a dominant position in the $8 billion–plus market for Botox and other beauty drugs.” AbbVie credits around 60 percent of its sales to Humira, its lucrative rheumatoid arthritis treatment. But lower-priced alternatives, called biosimilars, “are scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in 2023,” when Humira’s patent protections run out. The deal sent Allergan’s stock soaring, but AbbVie’s dropped over concerns the company paid too much.
“AbbVie couldn’t game the patent system forever,” said Joe Nocera in Bloomberg.com. Humira’s core patent actually expired in 2016, at which point biosimilars could have entered the market. “Did this happen? It did not.” AbbVie’s lawyers filed more than 100 so-called patent add-ons “to forestall the loss of the company’s Humira monopoly.” But after a series of lawsuits, AbbVie agreed to let those lapse in 2023, and the firm doesn’t appear to have any drug on the horizon that can “take the place of its cash cow.” Hence, the Allergan purchase. Botox isn’t patent-protected; its “recipe” is trademarked, and thus everlasting. That doesn’t come cheap. ■