Can Actavis deliver a promised $6B boost from this pipeline?

The big series of acquisitions that is making Actavis--now changing its name to Allergan--into a top 10 Big Pharma company overnight also bequeathed the company with an oddly disjointed pipeline of would-be blockbusters. And the company rolled it all up for public viewing today for its investors, touting its potential for spurring $6 billion in new sales.

By Big Pharma standards, Actavis' ($ACT) 9 mid- to late-stage assets and $1.7 billion R&D budget for 2015 look distinctly mid-biotech in size. And there's less here than meets the eye. But the Allergan ($AGN) deal will significantly boost its focus with new drugs for ophthalmology, neurology, urology and dermatology/aesthetics and will add a research organization that already consumes more than $1 billion a year.

For now, though, there's a late-stage focus on GI, with Forest's eluxadoline--acquired in the $1.5 billion Furiex buyout--providing a likely entry into the IBS market.

Actavis had also paid $40 million upfront for an option to buy Rhythm Health, a Boston-based biotech developing relamorelin (RM-131), a peptide ghrelin agonist designed to treat diabetic gastroparesis and other GI functional disorders. That makes the lean list of pipeline assets, giving Actavis boasting rights to a potential $3 billion in GI sales--though not everyone is going to agree with that self-assessment.

Then there's a small neuroscience initiative. Cariprazine, an antipsychotic from Forest and Gedeon Richter that was initially rejected 15 months ago, is headed back to the regulators with new data--though analysts have been leery to assess the odds of success based on what's been in public view so far. Actavis got an approval in December for Namzaric, which combines a couple of existing therapies for Alzheimer's.

The Big Pharma is also big on Avycaz, an anti-infective that passed muster at a recent FDA panel review. And there's Dalvance, another anti-infective acquired in the $675 million buyout of Durata last fall.

Women's health also comes in for a nod, with Liletta, an intrauterine contraceptive device, and Esmya for uterine bleeding associated with uterine fibroids. And then there's the acne med Sarecycline.

Actavis has a big generics drug unit and a partnership with Amgen on biosimilars. The company now has biosimilars in development for four big cancer drugs: Herceptin, Avastin, Rituxan and Erbitux.

Actavis CEO Brent Saunders

Actavis CEO Brent Saunders added it all up and sees a great foundation for the future.

"Today, we provided an overview of the rationalized, standalone pharmaceutical development pipeline that will power Actavis' ascent into the fastest growing and most dynamic growth pharmaceutical company in global healthcare," Saunders said in a statement. "Our pipeline is strategically focused within our core therapeutic areas--with key opportunities in GI, CNS, Women's Health and Anti-infectives--and anchored by nine compounds currently in mid or late-stage development that have the potential to generate more than $6 billion in peak sales following launch. It is built on novel compounds in specialty and primary care markets where there is significant unmet medical need, and supported by a strong intellectual property portfolio providing an average of more than 10 years of patent protection."

Once the Allergan deal is complete, adding an R&D staff of some 2,500, Actavis/Allergan will have cobbled together one of the oddest assortments of experimental drugs in the business. How it puts it all together--and grows it from here--will be closely watched. For now, though, the company still has a long way to go before its R&D operations can compare to its new Big Pharma rivals.

- here's the release

Special Reports: Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of 2014 - Actavis/Allergan - Actavis/Forest Laboratories