CEO: Miles White
Based: Chicago, IL
2016 sales: $10 billion
2015 sales: $9.6 billion
* Fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2016
Abbott had quite a 2016, with its efforts to escape its $5.8 billion Alere acquisition grabbing headlines all year. But after a year of back and forth—which included Abbott offering a $50 million breakup fee that Alere rejected and the pair suing each other to get their way—the companies have finally agreed to new acquisition terms, bringing them a step closer to closing this chapter.
While the new terms would drop the deal’s value to about $5.3 billion, it looks on track to wrap up this year. In July 2017 alone, Alere has been offloading assets left and right to clear antitrust hurdles. It sold its triage and B-type naturietic peptide (BNP) assets to Quidel for $440 million and handed off its blood gas unit to Siemens for an undisclosed sum.
“2016 was a year of significant shaping for Abbott. We’ve lined our businesses with long-term growth trends, and it’s been our intention to build leadership positions in all areas of healthcare where we compete,” said CEO Miles White on the Q4 2016 earnings call.
When Abbott spun off therapeutics-focused AbbVie, it was left with its Nutrition, Diagnostics, Established Pharmaceuticals (EPD) and Medical Devices units. In 2016, Nutrition dipped 1%, while EPD logged 3.7% growth. Diagnostics and Medical Devices grew 3.6% and 3.8% respectively. Devices will be on the up and up thanks to the company’s $25 billion acquisition of St. Jude Medical.
The St. Jude buy rounded out Abbott’s cardiovascular business, extending its reach into nearly every segment of the $30 billion cardiovascular device market. St. Jude’s offerings in atrial fibrillation, heart failure and rhythm management complement Abbott’s expertise in mitral valve disease and coronary interventions.
The transaction gave Abbott a healthy pipeline, including the EnSite Precision cardiac mapping system, which scored an FDA nod just before Abbott ended fiscal 2016 and completed the St. Jude deal. A week later, Abbott launched the system, which guides clinicians treating patients with arrhythmias so they can perform procedures more quickly and more accurately.
To make room for investment and long-term growth in the cardiovascular space, the company sold off Abbott Medical Optics—which includes intraocular lenses and devices for LASIK surgery—to Johnson & Johnson for $4.3 billion. Originally acquired in 2009 as a foundation to expand upon, Abbott decided it “didn’t see sufficient opportunities for us to build AMO into a more broad-based leader in vision care.”
In the diabetes space, Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre—a continuous glucose monitor that doesn’t require routine fingersticks—is driving growth. It is marketed in Europe as a consumer device and approved in the U.S. for use by clinicians. The company plans to boost uptake in Europe and get a consumer version past the FDA in 2017.
Finally, the FDA OK’d Abbott’s Absorb, the first fully dissolving heart stent to earn U.S. approval, last July. The stent, which completely reabsorbs within three years of implantation, props narrowed coronary arteries open as it releases a drug to help the vessel heal. Unlike a permanent stent, the Absorb reduces the likelihood of more blockages to the artery and opens the patient up to more treatment options in the future.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Abbott, which pulled the device from the European market after study data showed higher rates of target lesion failure. The FDA made similar warnings earlier this year, citing it had a higher risk of adverse events compared to Abbott’s Xience stent. Abbott is now working with the agency to pinpoint the cause of higher rates of device thrombosis and cardiac events.