The five biggest bidders of 2008.

Consolidation among biotech and biopharma companies soared this year not just in number but also in value. The top-five list of who shelled out the most money for whom has a nice sampling of big pharma and biotech, international firms, generics companies, as well as life science tools firms.

At the top is Roche’s $43.7 billion pitch for Genentech. In terms of money, this is about as much as the five largest mergers of last year put together. Nothing has been sealed, though. Genentech said that $89 per share was too low, and Roche is still trying to secure financing. It is yet unknown whether the takeover will go through and if it does, what the final price will be.

Novartis’ $10.6 billion deal with Nestlé for 25% of Alcon puts it in second place. Novartis picked up 74 million shares at $143.18 a piece. Additionally come 2010, the firm will have the option to purchase Nestlé’s remaining 52% stake in Alcon. That transaction could reach $27.85 billion.

Takeda Pharmaceutical laid out $8.8 billion for Millennium Pharmaceuticals, placing it in the third spot in the top acquisitions of 2008. The impetus: Velcade, an anticancer agent. The drug is approved for multiple myeloma and raked in $527.52 million in the U.S. at the end of 2007. It is also showing potential as a platform drug.

Teva stepped up to the plate to represent the generics segment in this year’s tally of takeovers with its $7.46 billion offer for Barr Pharmaceuticals. Last year Mylan Laboratories beat out Teva in securing Merck Generics; Mylan’s acquisition came in at number three in that annual wrap-up. Teva’s bold move for Barr, however, pushes it even further ahead of others in the copy-cat drug arena.

Invitrogen closes this year’s list with its $6.7 billion play for Applera’s Applied Biosystems. Now called Life Technologies, the combined entity is a juggernaut in the consumables and systems market segment with expected sales of $3.5 billion.

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