When I started as a medicinal chemist at Boehringer Ingelheim, many heterocycles ago, our competition in the NNRTI field worked for Merck, Janssen, Upjohn, Hoechst, Bayer, Sanofi, Lilly, Mitsubishi, Pfizer, Glaxo Welcome, and Dupont Merck among others. Some of these no longer exist as independent companies and I've occasionally wondered how the productivity of merged pharmaceutical companies compares with their precursors. Shareholder value usually improves but does the invention of new medicines increase?
New drugs have a patent priority date and assignee, so what about looking at the productivity of the component companies along a merger timeline?
The graph above is for Sanofi Aventis to 2010.
The top timeline shows the individual companies and mergers that led to Sanofi Aventis in 2010.
The lower timeline shows the number of new drug inventions per year these companies produced along with the number of mergers.
It’s possible that a few approvals in the coming years will have patent priority dates before 2010, but not so many that the overall message will change.
It’s no secret that mergers lead to reduced R&D spending. The cost savings of pooled effort and trimmed pipelines helps the bottom line, in this case it did nothing for the invention of new medicines, at least between 1990 and 2010.