M and A. Mergers and Acquisitions.Types, Structures, Valuations. Digital type business concept

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In the first few weeks of 2024, oncology remained a central focus area for M&A deals. Two major acquisitions, Johnson & Johnson’s purchase of Ambrx Biopharma and Merck & Co.’s acquisition of Harpoon Therapeutics, both focus on the segment. The trend is long-standing and was also apparent in 2023, as E&Y has noted. Merck was also active in 2023, bagging Prometheus for $11B.

2024 pharma M&A trends: Strategic expansions beyond oncology

But a number of therapeutic areas are also in the mix. Sanofi kicked off the yera by scooping up rare disease biotech Inhibrx for $1.7 billion. The crown jewel is Inhibrx’s INBRX-101, a potential treatment for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, an inherited disorder that can cause lung and liver disease. Phase 1 data is positive.

In the generics space, Sun Pharma finally finalized its long-sought deal for generic specialist Taro Pharmaceutical, wrapping up a nearly 20-year, on-again/off-again pursuit. Sun agreed to pay $348 million to take Taro private. The deal bulks up Sun’s position in accessible dermatology and emerging markets.

GSK & J&J make big moves

GSK also entered the fray, buying up Aiolos Bio and its mid-stage asthma drug for up to $1.4 billion. Industry watchers say Aiolos’ AIO-001 takes a novel approach by targeting an underlying driver of inflammation called TSLP. Early results suggest it could work for patients that don’t respond well to current biologics.

And just last week, J&J put down $2 billion to acquire Ambrx Biopharma and its next-gen antibody-drug conjugates for cancer. Ambrx’s site-specific bioconjugation tech aims to deliver chemo directly into tumor cells while avoiding systemic toxicity. The crown jewel is ARX517, which was a focus of last year’s ESMO meeting.

The following table summarizes emerging 2024 pharma M&A trends in the first few weeks of the year:

Acquirer Company Acquired Date of Deal Deal Price (USD) Therapeutic Focus Notes
Sanofi Inhibrx Jan. 23, 2024. $1.7 billion Rare Diseases Focus on Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency with INBRX-101.
Sun Pharma Taro Pharmaceutical Jan. 17, 2024. $348 million Generics, Dermatology Acquisition to strengthen Sun Pharma in generics and dermatology market.
GSK Aiolos Bio Jan. 9, 2024. $1.4 billion Respiratory Diseases Acquisition of Aiolos with AIO-001, a monoclonal antibody for asthma treatment.
Johnson & Johnson Ambrx Biopharma Jan. 8, 2024. $2 billion Oncology Focus on T-cell engagers and ADCs for cancer treatment, including HPN328 targeting DLL3.
Merck & Co. Harpoon Therapeutics Jan. 8, 2024. $680 million Oncology Focus on novel T-cell engagers using TriTAC® platform, including HPN328 for small cell lung cancer treatment.
Novartis Calypso Jan. 8, 2024. $250 million Autoimmune Diseases Acquisition centered on CALY-002, an anti-IL-15 monoclonal antibody for autoimmune indications.