Building critical mass in the 2000s
Pfizer's ascent from the 14th ranked pharmaceutical company in 1990 to the number one company in 2000 was achieved by acquisition, most notably the acquisition
of Warner-Lambert in 2000, for which Pfizer had outbid American Home Products (see Tables I, II). In 1996, Pfizer had formed
a comarketing agreement with Warner-Lambert on Lipitor and with its acquisition of Warner-Lambert in 2000, Pfizer secured
its top prize in Lipitor, which was to become the top-selling prescription drug for Pfizer and the industry during the 2000s.
With the acquisition of Warner-Lambert, Lipitor became one of eight blockbuster drugs (defined as drugs with sales of $1
billion or more) for Pfizer in 2000. The others were: Norvasc, Zoloft, Neurontin, Celebrex, Zithromax, Viagra, and Diflucan.
Table II: Top global pharmaceutical companies, 2000
In 2003, Pfizer acquired Pharmacia. In 1995, Pharmacia & Upjohn was formed through the merger of Pharmacia AB and the Upjohn
Company. In 2000, Pharmacia acquired Monsanto, which included G.D. Searle, the pharmaceutical unit of Monsanto, and in 2002,
Pharmacia spun off Monsanto as a separate agrochemical/agricultural company.
In 2009, Pfizer acquired Wyeth for $68 billion, cementing its position as the number one global pharmaceutical company (see
Table III). The Pfizer–Wyeth merger was one of three megamergers in the late 2000s. In 2009, Merck & Co. acquired Schering-Plough
for $41 billion, and Roche acquired the remaining shares that it did not already own of the biopharmaceutical company, Genentech,
for $47 billion. In April 2011, Sanofi-Aventis completed its acquisition of the biopharmaceutical company Genzyme and simplified
its name to Sanofi in May 2011.
Table III: Top global pharmaceutical companies, 2011
In 2011, Abbott Laboratories announced plans to separate into two companies: one in medical products, which will keep the
Abbott name, and a second company focused on research-based pharmaceuticals, which will be called AbbVie. The separation is
expected to be completed later this year in 2012.
The decade of the 2010s
What will the next decade bring? In looking at the list of the top 15 global pharmaceutical companies in 2011, we see two
key trends already represented: the rising role of generic drugs in the prescription drug market through the positioning of
the generic-drug compay Teva Pharmaceutical among the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies and the growing importance of
biologic-based drugs through the rise in the rankings of the biopharmaceutical company Amgen as well Roche and Sanofi following
their respective acquisitions of the biopharmaceutical companies Genentech and Genzyme (see Table III).
What then will be the pharmaceutical company of 2020 be (see sidebar)? Will the next decade bring more bolt-on acquisitions
as pharmaceutical companies focus on specialty-based products as the blockbuster-drug model erodes? Will there be acquisitions
in diagnostics for building positions in personalized therapeutics or other healthcare-related businesses? What role will
emerging markets play? Are there other megamergers in the offing? Although we don't know the answers to these questions yet,
one thing is certain: as in previous decades, the decade of the 2010s portends to be another period of change for the global
A look into the future: the pharmaceutical company of 2020