Baysanto? Monsantayer?

Whatever they end up calling themselves, Bayer and Monsanto have finally crossed the last big regulatory hurdle in the way of their proposed merger. The US Department of Justice gave Bayer permission to go through with the $62.5B deal on Tuesday. It’s one of the largest mergers on record (list of those here), and the new company will have control of over 25% of the world’s seeds and pesticides. Get ready for a future where Mbayto branded trees litter the landscape. The companies claim that the merger will allow them to increase spending on R&D, but Business Insider reports that they’ll only really be spending about $500M more than when they were separate. With that much of the market cornered there’s probably a better reason the deal will benefit the companies…

Adding CAR-T to the shopping cart

How about some exciting, multi-billion dollar deals to spice up the first quarter? First, Sanofi acquired Bioverativ, a hemophilia-focused biopharmaceutical company that spun out of Biogen last February. Since losing patent protection, Sanofi has seen flagging revenue from their flagship Lantus products—which occupy the #4 and #15 spots on IQVIA’s list of Top Medicines by Invoice Spending—and they’re hoping Bioverativ can give their treatment portfolio a boost. Similarly, Celgene boosted their pipeline prospects by acquiring Juno Therapeutics, who have a promising CAR-T candidate expected to be FDA-approved in 2019. Celgene also recently bought Impact Biomedicines, all part of a strategy to preemptively address profit losses when their blood cancer drug Revlimid goes off-patent in a few years.

5. Who’s up for a good fat freezing? Anyone? Anyone?

Allergan. That’s who. Last week, Allergan announced its acquisition of Zeltiq and its flagship CoolSculpting system. CoolSculpting is the system you’ve see in ads. It cools fat cells underneath the skin, which then freeze and die, resulting in a whole new you! It’s almost like Allergan thinks we live in a society of increasing vanity. Add fat freezing to Allergan’s portfolio that already includes Botox, Kybella (injection to treat double chin), and other aesthetics and plastic surgery offerings and what do you get? A one-stop-shop for pulling off that sweet, sweet Joan Rivers look you’ve always wanted. Just kidding… Kind of…

3. That time when avoiding antitrust created distrust

Insurance: taking the safe path that might cost you now, but will benefit you in the long run. Insurance company Aetna apparently tried the safe path to accomplish a “megamerger” with Humana by pulling out of ACA exchanges where the two were competing. According to Judge John D. Bates, who officially blocked the merger on Monday, Aetna pulled out of these markets not simply due to profit concerns, but to “improve its litigation position.” Turns out, as anyone with insurance could tell you, the safe path doesn’t always benefit you as much as you think it will. The blocked deal doesn’t bode well for the Anthem-Cigna merger, which has a larger price tag than the Aetna-Humana deal and is similarly stalled by the US Justice Department.

3. The not-so-exciting side of M&A

Mergers & Acquisitions – the making of a new company, new products, and the seemingly endless new opportunity. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows; just ask some Mylan employees. Mylan announced in a December 5 SEC filing that they are “currently developing the details of the cost reduction initiatives, including workforce actions,” and that “less than 10 percent of its global workforce may be impacted.” That’s a significant number considering Mylan reported 35,000 employees in 2015. In October, Mylan terminated 94 employees after acquiring Meda Pharmaceuticals in New Jersey. According to FiercePharma, Mylan provided “severance, benefits and outplacement services during [the] transition.” But that’s not the news this 10% wants to hear. To them, M&A feels more like MMA [spoiler alert: it’s a broken nose].

4. It’s going to be YUGE

Election season has passed and Donald Trump is set to take office in 2017, accompanied by a newly Republican-filled Congress. This means we could be poised to witness even more of the mega-mergers that have taken place across the pharma landscape. These mergers have been popular for US companies partly because it has allowed them to achieve huge (…yuge) tax savings due to US tax rates. President-elect Trump has stated multiple times that corporate tax rates are too high and that he will be working to drop them drastically to promote competition within the US. If this comes to fruition, be prepared to see more companies bring in off-shore dollars to take advantage of these changes.

5. This week in GMOs (Giants Merging Opulently)

The agribusiness behemoth Monsanto has accepted Bayer AG’s $66 billion takeover bid. The offer will be the largest all-cash deal to ever take place… if Bayer can get past regulatory hurdles in about 30 different jurisdictions. If it can’t, Bayer has to pay Monsanto $2 billion to make up for it. The deal would put Bayer in control of more than a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticide supply. This means Bayer’s biggest business is now agriculture-based, not healthcare. Could this mean less involvement in pharmaceuticals for Bayer? Most of that $66 billion came from bank loans and, as any college grad knows, owing the bank a lot of money means less cash to buy drugs.

3. Pharma mergers squelch innovation

Drug innovation post-pharma mergers drops faster than Ryan Lochte’s credibility post-Olympics according to a study published by the Harvard Business Review. Researchers analyzed 65 pharma deals and found that innovation declines post-merger, both within the merging companies and among competitors of the new entity. The data show that patenting and R&D spending among competitors drops by more than 20% within four years after the merger. Researchers theorize this innovation decline among competitors occurs because the merger has created one less rival competing in the same therapeutic area. Thus, less push to innovate. With increasing awareness of the impact on innovation, we’ll see if regulators are quicker to put the kibosh on future mergers.