Despite large-scale consolidation in the healthcare industry, Bristol-Myers Squibb has until recently remained for the most part on the sidelines, avoiding transformational mega-deals in favour of smaller bolt-ons, primarily in the biopharma sector. These various acquisitions have been left to operate with partial independence to form what the group describes as a "string-of-pearls" strategy. A change of strategy led to a mammoth deal in early 2019 to acquire rival biopharma developer Celgene for around $74bn. If completed, it will be one of the biggest-ever acquisitions in healthcare history. Once the world's #1 drug company, BMS has steadily been pushed down the rankings by mergers or aggressive growth among its competitors. During the 1990s, it sold off several of its non-core lines, followed in 2001 by its central Clairol business (to Procter & Gamble) as well as half of its medical devices portfolio, to concentrate on medicines. Several other non-core units were sold or spun off in 2008 and 2009, most significantly the Mead Johnson nutritionals division. As a result, because of its size, BMS has often been regarded as a potential takeover target. The group entered tentative merger negotiations in 2007 with Sanofi, the developer of what was then its best-selling product, Plavix. However, no agreement was reached, and Plavix lost its patent towards the end of 2012. Several other important patents ended in 2014 and 2015, but the push into biopharma has helped restore the group's product pipeline. It has enjoyed considerable success with the cancer drug Opdivo - its top-seller again in 2018 at $6.7bn - and thrombosis treatment Eliquis ($6.4bn). Both drugs notched up annual sales increases of more than a third. Other blockbusters in 2018 were arthritis drug Orencia ($2.7bn), and cancer products Sprycel ($2.0bn) and Yervoy ($1.3bn). Anti-viral Baraclude slipped out of blockbuster status to sales of $744m. Total revenues rose 9% to a best-ever $22.6bn, with net income of almost $5.0bn. Giovanni Caforio is CEO.
Capsule checked 19th October 2018
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Adbrands Daily Update 3rd Jan 2019: The New Year is only three days old and we already have what is likely to be one of its biggest acquisitions. Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to acquire rival biopharma developer Celgene for a whopping $74bn in cash and shares. The target group's fastest-growing drug is psoriasis treatment Otezla, which was the 6th biggest spender overall last year on US TV advertising. Its top-seller is cancer drug Revlimid - sales are expected to have topped $10bn last year, or around a third of Celgene's total revenues of around $15bn. Another oncology product, Pomalyst, brought in around $2bn in 2018.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Dec 2018: Bristol-Myers Squbb agreed to offload its main remaining consumer healthcare business - UPSA, headquartered in France but operating in several European markets - to Japanese group Taisho Pharmaceuticals for $1.6bn, a little over three times annual revenues. In 2009, Taisho also bought BMS's OTC operations in South East Asia. UPSA's brands include analgesics Dafalgan, Efferalgan and Aspirine and cold and flu remedy Les Elementaires.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Mar 2017: Pfizer once again dominated the pharmaceutical sector in 2016 in direct-to-consumer advertising. According to figures from Nielsen it spent a whopping $1.19bn to market its drugs to US consumers last year, 2.5 times nearest rival Bristol-Myers Squibb, which spent $458m. AbbVie, Eli Lilly and Allergan rounded out the top five at between $350m and $450m apiece. Individual top spenders were Lilly's Trulicity, BMS's Opdivo, and Lyrica and Xeljanz from Pfizer.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jan 2017: Pharmaceutical shares also slipped into the red following President-elect Trump's stormy first press conference. Among multiple other topics he touched upon, Trump promised to devote special attention to Big Pharma, not least the pricing of new drugs, and where they are made. He attacked drug companies for making their products outside the US to save costs, while also "getting away with murder" on pricing. "We're the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don't bid properly... Pharma has a lot of lobbies, lobbyists and a lot of power. There is very little bidding on drugs... We’re going to start bidding and we are going to save billions of dollars over a period of time." All the major drug companies suffered a slump in valuations following Trump's remarks, averaging around 3.5% across the board. Worst hit were Bristol-Myers Squibb, down over 5%, and Abbvie over 4%. Pfizer, Amgen, Eli Lilly and Gilead fell more than 2% each.
Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Oct 2016: Shares in pharmaceutical group Bristol-Myers Squibb took another tumble following publication of full details of disappointing recent trial results for its cancer drug Opdivo, previously seen as a major future blockbuster. Initial reports prompted a 20% plunge in BMS stock last month, but the full report is even worse than analysts had anticipated. Opdivo had been conceived as a less gruelling alternative to traditional chemotherapy for certain types of lung cancer. However the full trial results suggest that it is in fact also less effective, not just than chemotherapy but also than rival drug Keytruda, from Merck. The latter also reported new trial data this week, but this showed better than expected results. The sharp contrast between the two announcements caused BMS shares to fall by another 10% to a two-year low.
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