Piramal continues market access blitz with Abacus takeover

Piramal Healthcare has accelerated its move into market access modeling by snapping up U.K. firm Abacus International for an undisclosed fee. The takeover comes months after India-based Piramal jumped into the sector by snagging Decision Resources Group for $635 million.

With pharma facing a new and more demanding payer environment, Piramal is betting big on the role of service providers with data-driven modeling capabilities. Abacus fits the bill, and will bring a broad range of services--from disease understanding to payer communication--to the market access group at Decision Resources. The deal also gives Piramal a strong foothold in Europe, where market access requirements are evolving at a dizzying pace as governments grapple with spiraling healthcare costs.

By helping companies navigate the new payer landscape, Abacus has built an enviable portfolio of Big Pharma clients including Novartis ($NVS), Pfizer ($PFE) and Sanofi ($SNY). And Abacus expects the service it offers these clients to improve now that it is part of a big organization. The confident prediction is based on an understanding that models are only as good as the data they use. And Decision Resources is sitting on a wealth of market and payer research data that the Abacus team will now feed into its model. More data should lead to more accurate predictions.

Greater modeling clout could prove pivotal in the increasingly competitive market access niche. CROs have seized on market access as a growth opportunity--with Icon ($ICLR) and Quintiles making several acquisitions--and Decision Resources is going toe-to-toe with these companies to take share. With Piramal's backing, Decision Resources has the financial muscle to compete. Since selling its generic-drug business to Abbott Labs ($ABT) for $3.8 billion in 2010, Piramal has used its takeover war chest to move into higher value markets and has spoken of its desire to diversify its business through acquisitions.

- here's the press release
- view Abacus' client list (pdf)