King Pharmaceuticals might not have ruled the drug market, but it didn't mind taking the reins on certain areas of medicine. The company was engaged in marketing pain management drugs and developing late-stage pharmaceutical candidates in the areas of neuroscience and acute care. It had a portfolio of branded prescription products, including chronic pain drug Avinza, muscle relaxant Skelaxin, and blood-loss control aid Thrombin-JMI. It also produced emergency drug delivery devices through subsidiary Meridian Medical Technologies and medicated feed additives through Alpharma Animal Health. King Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Pfizer in 2011 for about $3.6 billion.
Pfizer expanded its operations in the high-growth market of prescription pain relief treatments through the King purchase. The acquisition also strengthened Pfizer's drug delivery technologies, its research and development programs, and its animal health operations. King's operating units, which were integrated into Pfizer's organization following the purchase, benefited from the deal by gaining access to Pfizer's much broader cache of resources including its customer service organization, sales network, and regulatory expertise.
Not a new party to making deals, King itself acquired rival Alpharma for $1.6 billion in late 2008. The acquisition strengthened King Pharmaceuticals' portfolio and development pipeline of pain management products. It also added Flector Patch, a topical patch for pain due to minor sprains, to its core line of marketed products. The Flector Patch went on to become one of King Pharmaceuticals' biggest sellers. Alpharma also diversified King Pharmaceuticals' business beyond just human health into the agricultural animal health market.
Not long after the Alpharma deal closed, King announced a restructuring initiative designed to lower operating expenses. The restructuring, when coupled with job cuts from the acquisition, resulted in a reduction of about 22% of its workforce during 2009.
King's branded prescription drugs were marketed through a direct sales force; that segment accounted for about 65% of the company's revenues. In addition to its core products (Skelaxin, Thrombin, and the Flector Patch), the segment consisted of a number of legacy products, including hypertension treatment Altace and hyperthyroidism tablets Levoxyl and Cytomel.
At the time of its acquisition, King was also seeking US approval of several clinically-tested candidates to add to its branded prescription offerings, including Remoxy, an abuse-resistant pain drug that it had been developing in partnership with Pain Therapeutics, and CoreVue, a next-generation cardiac imaging agent. King received FDA approval for Embeda, a long-acting morphine product that was also designed to be abuse-resistant, in mid-2009, and began marketing the drug in the US shortly thereafter.
Keeping its operations diverse, King's second largest business segment (20% of sales in 2009) was its Animal Health division, which had edged the Meridian auto-injector unit out of second place in terms of sales. The animal health unit sold a wide range of products focused on preventing and treating diseases that affected cattle, swine, and poultry. Products in the Alpharma line included feed additives such as Alphamune, Cycostat, and Robenz, as well as antibiotics and pest control products.
Bringing up the rear in terms of sales (at about 14% in 2009) was the company's Meridian auto-injector drug delivery device and antidote segment, which made products used in the emergency treatment of pain and chemical and allergic reactions. The division was also developing Vanquix, a diazepam-filled auto-injector to treat epilepsy. The US Department of Defense was a major customer in this segment. Additionally, the company received revenues through royalties on a product it developed called Adenoscan, an intravenous solution used in cardiac stress testing.