Vanity, thy true name be Profits -- at least for Allergan Inc. Operating as Actavis, it's the US arm of Ireland-based Allergan plc, a leading maker of eye care, skin care, and aesthetic products, including best-seller Botox. Originally used to treat muscle spasms (as well as eye spasms and misalignment), Botox found another, more popular application in diminishing facial wrinkles. Allergan's eye care products include medications for glaucoma, allergic conjunctivitis, and chronic dry eye. Skin care products include treatments for acne, wrinkles, and psoriasis. Allergan also sells breast augmentation implants and surgical devices. In 2015 Actavis bought Allergan; the combined firm now plans to merge with Pfizer.
Change in Company Type
Actavis, an Ireland-based firm, changed its name to Allergan after the acquisition. The US business (which operates under the Actavis name) moved its headquarters from Irvine, California, to Parsippany, New Jersey.
The $66 billion merger of Allergan and Actavis, a leading producer of generic medications as well as branded products, created one of the top 10 global pharmaceutical firms, with revenues anticipated to surpass $23 billion in 2015. The merger announcement capped a bidding war for Allergan between Actavis and Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
Now headquartered in Ireland, Allergan has agreed to merge with Pfizer in a $160 billion transaction that will create the world's largest drug maker.
Allergan's specialty pharmaceuticals segment accounts for the majority (more than 80%) of annual revenues. The segment's largest product lines are its eye care offerings -- featuring such brands as Alphagan, Restasis, and Refresh -- and the Botox/neuromodulator products. Smaller specialty lines include skin care and urologic medications. Subsidiary SkinMedica holds a portfolio of prescription treatments to reduce female facial hair and lotions to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
The company's second segment -- medical devices -- encompasses the facial aesthetic and breast aesthetic product lines. (Allergan divested its obesity intervention medical device line in 2013.)
With a nod to vertical integration, Allergan manufactures most of its products, as well as the plastic parts and bottles used in its ophthalmic solutions. While it purchases most of its raw materials, it does brew up the botulinum toxin for its Botox products.
In 2014, some 62% of Allergan's net sales was derived from reimbursable products, while the rest was derived from cash pay products.
The US is Allergan's largest market, accounting for more than 60% of product sales. The company also conducts sales in Europe (20% of sales), the Asia/Pacific region, and Latin America.
Outside of the US, the company owns, leases, and operates manufacturing and warehousing facilities in Brazil, Costa Rica, France, and Ireland. It also leases administration facilities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and the UK.
Sales and Marketing
Allergan distributes its products through its own sales representatives and via drug wholesalers to customers including hospitals, surgery centers, doctors, group purchasing organizations, pharmacies, and retailers. Its largest customers include wholesale distributors Cardinal Health (accounting for 11% of revenue in 2014) and McKesson (another 14% of revenue).
The company targets its marketing efforts toward specialty medical practitioners and hospitals, as well as directly to consumers. Marketing tactics include ads in medical journals, direct mail, and Internet-based product literature. Advertising expenses totaled some $247.5 million in 2014.
Allergan's revenues rose 15% to $72 billion in 2014 (versus $6.3 billion in 2013), primarily due to higher specialty pharmaceutical sales (including eye care drugs, Botox, and skin care lines). The company also experienced increased medical device sales (face and breast aesthetics) and income from the sale of its obesity device product line.
Net income rose 55% to $1.5 billion in 2014, largely due to the higher revenues as well as a decline in losses from sales of discontinued operations. Cash flow from operations grew 14% to $1.9 billion, primarily due to higher net income.
While its sales and profits have mostly increased over the last five years, even during recessionary times, the company did see its income drop sharply (to the tune of $609 million) in 2010 as a result of a legal settlement following a US Department of Justice investigation into Allergan's sales and marketing practices with Botox.
A good portion of Allergan's products are not reimbursable by governmental or other health care plans, meaning consumers must pay out-of-pocket for them. In theory this could make the company particularly vulnerable in times of economic uncertainty when consumers limit non-essential spending.
Allergan's strategy includes developing products to address unmet medical needs and those associated with aging, as well as chronic and debilitating diseases and conditions. It is particularly interested in forwarding its position in the opthalmology, medical aesthetics, dermatology and neuromodulators, glaucoma and related diseases, chronic dry eye, and genitourinary disease markets, as well as the next-generation breast implant and dermal fillers markets.
To maintain a robust product pipeline, Allergan relies on a regimen of acquisitions and in-house development of its niche pharmaceuticals. The company aims to grow in existing specialty areas, as well as new niche markets where unmet medical needs are evident.
After being acquired by Actavis in 2015, Allergan found itself with debt of more than $44 billion and a generics business that offered razor-thin profits. In order to concentrate on more lucrative prescription drugs, Allergan agreed to sell its generics operations to top generics firm Teva Pharmaceutical for $40.5 billion. The deal includes Allergan's generic versions of OxyContin (for pain) and Concerta (for ADHD).
In a separate deal, Allergan has agreed to buy biotech firm Naurex, which is developing an anti-depressant medication. That transaction is valued at some $560 million.
To share the cost of drug development, Allergan actively seeks out licensing agreements and partnerships. It currently has development agreements with Molecular Partners (retinal disease), ACADIA Pharmaceuticals (ophthalmology and pain), Medytox (neurotoxins), and Serenity Pharmaceuticals (treatment for nighttime urinary incontinence). It also rakes in royalties from the licensing of its own products to other companies.
Allergan has also had success in discovering new uses for its existing drugs, such as glaucoma drug Lumigan, which is also sold as Latisse for eyelash growth. As competition from other anti-wrinkle drugs ramped up, the company has found new uses for Botox, including as a treatment for excessive underarm sweating, migraines, and urinary incontinence in adults with neurological conditions, such as spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis. Allergan is still looking for new ways to apply Botox, including as a possible treatment for children with cerebral palsy or to alleviate post-herpetic neuralgia; it is also looking to market the drug in new geographic territories.
In 2014 Allergan received FDA approval to market two new styles of silicone breast implants; it was also granted approval for its OZURDEX steroid implant for the treatment of diabetic macular edema.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Acquisitions have plumped up the company's pipeline with potential new products and technologies. In 2013 Allergan acquired one of its development partners, MAP Pharmaceuticals, for some $958 million to gain full access to MAP's inhaled migraine treatment candidate (under review by the FDA). The following year it bought LiRIS Biomedicial, which is currently testing a treatment for interstitial cystitis and bladder pain syndrome.