Pfizer To Buy Allergan For $160B, Create World’s Largest Drug Company

If the giant pharmaceutical companies of the world seem quite big enough to you already, well, that just means you probably aren’t a major investor in or CEO of one. But the major investors and CEOs do think bigger is better, and so to that end two of them are merging to create an even bigger drug behemoth and take it overseas.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Pfizer and Allergan have announced a merger. The $160 billion deal will make the combined entity into the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company.

Pfizer is the world’s second-largest drug-maker (behind Johnson & Johnson), perhaps best known for such drugs as Lipitor, Zoloft, and of course Viagra. Meanwhile, you may remember Allergan from such products as Botox, Juvederm, and the never-ending drug commercials for Restasis.

The deal itself is a little tricky. Technically, Pfizer will become a part of Allergan, but the combined company will then rename itself Pfizer after the deal is done. Why? Because Allergan is based in Ireland, not the United States. Although Pfizer will retain global offices in New York, the new company will be considered Irish and therefore subject to Irish, not American, tax laws and subsidies.

It’s a deal called a tax inversion, and the point for the companies is that in the end, it’ll be a lot cheaper for the new Pfizer to be able to list Dublin, and not Manhattan, as its main address.

Money-wise, it’s a bigger merger than any of the other mega-mergers announced this year, according to the WSJ, with a total value of over $150 billion. For comparison, beer mega-merger bringing Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller under one frothy roof is valued at about $105 billion, while the deal that Charter, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks are negotiating comes in at more like $57 billion.

Of course, the value of a company doesn’t matter to the vast majority of consumers… but the price of its goods does. The sky-high and ever-climbing prices of prescription drugs are already a major concern to individuals and lawmakers alike, as the cost of medical care in the U.S. continues to increase.

So how is this merger likely to affect consumers? Nobody is entirely sure yet. But that is sure to be one of the major questions regulators consider as this deal gets its months-long antitrust review.

Pfizer, Allergan Agree on Historic Merger Deal [Wall Street Journal]