Billionaire Piramal Buys Drug Data Firm for $635 Million

Piramal Healthcare Ltd. Chairman Ajay Piramal
Piramal Healthcare Ltd. Chairman Ajay Piramal said, “DRG’s portfolio of products is widely regarded as the gold standard of information.” Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Piramal Healthcare Ltd., controlled by Indian billionaire Ajay Piramal, agreed to buy Decision Resources Group LLC, a health-care research provider, for $635 million to tap increasing demand for drug market information.

The acquisition will give Piramal a team of 500 employees, 140 of them analysts with masters or doctoral degrees, and mark the Mumbai-based company’s foray into the $5.7 billion business of providing specialized data and analytics used by drugmakers and medical device makers, Piramal said in an e-mailed statement today.

At a time when research costs are rising and approval rates for new medicines are low, drugmakers are under increasing pressure to ensure they focus on experimental therapies with the greatest chances of success. Analytical information and market assessments provided by companies such as Decision Resources help drugmakers choose candidates and determine future demand for their products.

“DRG’s portfolio of products is widely regarded as the gold standard of information,” Chairman Piramal said in Mumbai. “The need for specialist information is critical and demand is growing.”

Top Pharmaceutical Companies

Decision Resources, based in Burlington, Massachusetts, has forecast $160 million in revenue this year, according to the statement. The researcher counts 48 of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies as its clients. Providence Equity Partners bought majority control of Decision Resources in 2007.

Piramal shares dropped 0.6 percent to 427.25 rupees at the close in Mumbai. The stock has climbed 13 percent this year, outperforming the 7 percent gain in the BSE-200 Index.

“Decision Resources is one of the big names in the health-care information business,” Asthika Goonewardene, a Bloomberg Industries analyst covering generic pharmaceuticals, said. It provides research reports on diseases, new drugs, doctors’ opinions and medical device consumption, he said.

Piramal, who sold his Indian pharmaceutical business to Abbott Laboratories for $3.7 billion in 2010, has been acquiring pharmaceutical companies and has made investments in real estate and telecommunications.

This acquisition comes a month after Piramal agreed to buy Bayer AG’s molecular imaging portfolio, which included rights to florbetaben, an experimental tracer which may be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease.

The billionaire, who prefers to shun bankers on his deals, said in an interview last month he succeeded in obtaining a better valuation by doing the transactions himself. Barclays Plc advised Decision Resources, while Piramal didn’t use an adviser, Piramal said today.

The group is planning to purchase a company in the defense business to provide surveillance technology to the Indian armed forces or other government agencies, Piramal said April 24.

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