Post-approval fate of pharmaceutical companies

Drug Discov Today. 2015 Feb;20(2):170-4. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2014.10.013. Epub 2014 Nov 4.


For a fortunate subset of pharmaceutical companies, a regulatory approval is the culmination of massive investment in time, work and money. What happens next? Some companies proceed to build a pipeline and obtain additional approvals. Others do not. In this present report, post-approval fate is evaluated and it was found that most companies are ultimately acquired. A subset achieved a second approval six-to-eight years after the first approval, whereas a shrinking subset, designated as 'singlets', remains active in drug discovery with only a single approval. The likelihood that a company will remain a singlet or be acquired relates to therapeutic indication, with oncology associated with increased acquisition potential and infectious-disease-based companies being less commonly acquired.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Approval / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Industry / trends*
  • Drugs, Investigational


  • Drugs, Investigational