The latest insights on M&A activity in the life sciences commercial vendors

Zensights compiles and analyzes market data and trends gathered from our proprietary databases and consulting-enabled software solutions. This data is made available to our clients to give them insights into the market activity that may impact their supplier relationships.

Key M&A highlights in Q1 2023:

  • Merger activity in the first quarter of 2023 continues at roughly the same pace as in prior quarters. Of the firms we monitor for our clients, there were ten mergers in the quarter versus nine in Q4 2022 and eleven in Q3 2022.
  • PE-backed operating firms and large strategics continue their consolidation and account for roughly half of all M&A activity in the commercial space during the period. This trend of operating groups and PE-backed acquirers consolidating smaller, more niche suppliers continues from prior periods. While the consolidation of ownership continues, we hear mixed reports from our clients about the acquirer’s success in offering coordinated, broader solutions to clients and in getting formerly separate teams to operate as one. We continue to monitor this dynamic in the market to support our clients in maximizing the opportunity from the consolidation and to help them minimize the potential negative impact on their business as they manage through these changes.
  • There is continued focus on the acquisition of market access and marketing/communication/omnichannel capabilities, specifically in growth areas such as oncology, rare diseases, and other non-primary care therapy areas. These acquisitions illuminate two growing dynamics in the market that suppliers are giving increased attention to. First is the importance of getting access to target markets and launching successfully into them, and second, the importance of messaging to a broader set of stakeholders to drive commercial performance. The risks of not getting it right on either front significantly reduce commercial performance, and the suppliers are noting and taking action to help their clients and maximize their own performance.
  • There is continued consolidation of strategy consulting firms with technology and analytics firms. Traditionally services-focused providers (both strategy and other) are expanding their offerings to help with a broader set of client challenges and adding non-services offerings such as technology and analytics to the offering suites. In a similar trend, formerly technology-focused firms are broadening their offerings to include related services to help clients get value from their technology capabilities. These two formerly separate markets are merging to align more cleanly with how clients want and need to purchase solutions to their challenges.

2023 Q1 Activity

In the first quarter of 2023, M&A activity continued with nine deals in the firms we monitor for our clients. The following deals may be of interest:

 1. BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy was acquired by Elevance Health. (February 2023)

According to Elevance, the company was purchased to help meet the specialty drug needs of its clients and customers with a whole-health approach, including specialty drug programs and other existing programs. BioPlus will operate as part of CarelonRx, Elevance Health’s pharmacy benefit manager.

2. HCB Health was acquired by NPG Health and rebranded as Boundless Life Sciences Group. (February 2023)

HCB reported that it has joined the Next Practices Group (NPG) to become one of the foundational agencies for NPG Health, its global healthcare platform. The Boundless team includes expertise in data science and analytics, PESO Media, communications, public affairs, marketing technologies, software solutions, and a purpose-driven offering across a team of 250+ team members in the Group.

3. ConcentricLife was launched by Stagwell by merging Concentric Health Experience and Scout. (February 2023)

Stagwell announced the launch of ConcentricLife, a unique “common center” agency model to help brands answer rising consumer demands in rare disease, health, and wellness. To fulfill that vision, ConcentricLife is powered by deep insights from the Human Connection Score™. This proprietary tool helps marketers identify and target the underlying human behaviors that fuel the modern health experience.

4. 3k Agentur fur Kommunikation (3k) was acquired by WPP.  (March 2023)

WPP reports that 3K will become part of their Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K) global network, strengthening its healthcare presence in Europe and expanding its operations in Germany. WPP says Germany is their third largest market, and the addition of 3K Agentur für Kommunikation to H+K’s growing portfolio further strengthens WPP’s global healthcare offer to clients. Founded 25 years ago, 3K is known for its expertise in healthcare, biopharmaceuticals, and related sciences, working with some of the world’s most notable global pharmaceutical companies, consumer health brands, and local biotech start-ups. 3K becomes the latest in a series of acquisitions – including Fēnom Digital, Diff, Passport, Newcraft and Corebiz in the last six months – that form part of WPP’s accelerated growth strategy and focused M&A approach to continue to build on the company’s core capabilities.

5. TI Health was acquired by Real Chemistry and merged into the Swoop operating company. (March 2023)

Real Chemistry announced the acquisition of TI Health, a data-driven marketing and predictive analytics company that delivers omnichannel healthcare provider (HCP) engagement insights and activation solutions for pharmaceutical and life sciences brands. TI Health will be integrated into Real Chemistry’s Swoop offering, that is the leading provider of exclusive privacy-safe patient audiences, creating a fully unified HCP and direct-to-consumer (DTC) system of engagement for healthcare marketers. In conjunction with the acquisition, Swoop is launching four new solutions built by connecting its system of engagement with the TI Health AffinitiTM insights platform, which includes content, message, and channel affinity data for more than 1.6 million HCPs.

6. PharmaHealthLabs was acquired by Fingerpaint Group and merged into the Fingerpaint Medical Communications capability. (March 2023)

Fingerpaint Group, an integrated collective of healthcare companies that offer commercialization solutions spanning the full product life cycle, is growing its robust medical communications expertise with the acquisition of PharmaHEALTHLabs. This highly scientific healthcare communications agency specializes in the oncology and biologics space. Details of the transaction were not disclosed. PharmaHEALTHLabs will be rebranded as Fingerpaint Medical Communications and join Fingerpaint Group’s Specialty Services offerings, which include medical and scientific communications, market access, and naming and branding capabilities.

7. Acsel Health was acquired by Open Health. (March 2023)

OPEN Health, a pre-eminent global provider of scientific communications and HEOR & market access services, announced the acquisition of Acsel Health (“Acsel”), a New York-based life science strategy and advisory firm focused on commercial strategy, pricing and market access, and commercial excellence. Acsel’s deep industry expertise, scientific rigor, and actionable analysis drive its success in providing valued partnerships to life science companies. These capabilities will complement OPEN Health’s existing offering, broadening its services to pharma and biotech companies.

8. Payer Access was acquired by Sermo. (February 2023)

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9. Charter Oak was acquired by Sermo. (February 2023)

Sermo reports it has acquired Payer Access and Charter Oak as part of its effort to boost its payer and oncologist reach. Payer Access is an insights provider with access to payers and clinicians, and Charter Oak is a healthcare research company. With these acquisitions, Sermo, a physician-first online community and leader in global healthcare professional (HCP) insights, has expanded its platform to offer industry customers on-demand access to critical payer insights and the opportunity to build stronger connections with oncologists at a time when cancer treatment innovations are on the rise globally. These two acquisitions expand support and amplify payers and oncologists on Sermo. Now, Sermo provides comprehensive reach across HCPs, payers, and expert healthcare decision-makers within a single platform. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and tackle important trends like an increase in cancer rates among patients globally, Sermo is committed to providing a trusted platform for real-time insights and engagements among crucial stakeholder groups.

10. Archipelago launched by Havas Health & You. (March 2023)

Archipelago, a value and access consultancy, was launched by Havas Health & You to help clients navigate complexities around value, access, pricing, and reimbursement challenges. This global offering has an established team and offers a breadth of experience in payer, manufacturer, agency, consulting, and clinical practice settings, across a range of therapeutic areas and acquisition models, including chronic, small molecule, buy-and-bill, gene, orphan, and digital health. Archipelago has already completed over 50 value and access strategy engagements for early- to late-stage brands, including customer and market segmentation, pricing and contracting scenario evaluation, stakeholder journey optimization, and product acquisition pathways.