The companies that make these drugs are now a $15bn deal. Here’s how bad they’ve gotten.

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This article originally appeared on Quartz.

If you have malaria or dengue fever in the United States, chances are you are going to be prescribed a little something called a falciparum drug for at least some of your treatment. While generic versions of the older drugs have flooded pharmacies and fast-food chains, the more advanced products are a big, expensive hassle. But now, thanks to a multi-billion dollar buyout, there’s some pretty good news for those who need the medicine.

On Thursday, Massachusetts-based Pfizer will pay $14.2 billion to buy the maker of cancer treatments and other drugs, Allergan, in a deal that forms one of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry. The acquisition should allow Pfizer to get it billions of dollars in revenue by selling some of the older, more expensive medicines, according to its executives.

The last of Pfizer’s five-pronged falciparum drug business is called Prevenar, a popular medicine used to combat malaria and dengue fever. It is sold as a tablet, two capsules, or a combination of both. Pfizer acquired the drug in 2010 through its purchase of Wyeth, which it later sold to Merck.

Pfizer already sells two generic forms of the drug called Combivir A and Combivir B. The newer forms, manufactured by Swiss company Teva, cost less and are cheaper than the original series, but may not hold up as well as the drug in a crisis. A company spokesman said in an email that the generic versions hold up well in the U.S. — about as well as the drug itself. There’s also no alternative drug.

Pfizer last year reported just over $300 million in net sales of Prevenar, most of which was for the tablets version. Half of its sales, however, are for the more expensive combo pack. The two capsules version, which is also available in a powder form for home use, represents the bulk of its sales. Total global sales of Combivir A and B, which includes both Combivir A and B, were just $190 million. About 10 million people in developing countries used the drug last year, according to the World Health Organization. In the U.S., it was approved to treat malaria in 1998 and is also used for dengue fever. Some argue that the drugs are ineffective and bad for people, but there’s also no truly reliable study that shows they don’t work.

The total sales for the combination pill should increase with the acquisition, the companies say. Allergan, which sells generic versions of some of the larger drugmaker’s medicines like Actos diabetes medicine, will likely end up selling off other parts of its portfolio, as well. But at least Pfizer will have a new and hopefully cheaper way to sell its older drugs.

—John Detrixhe

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