The largest drugmakers have long been the beneficiaries of government bailouts.
But they are also grappling with the threat of being bought by the most powerful nation on Earth.
The problem is, the pharmaceutical companies themselves don’t have a lot of leverage in the marketplace.
And they’re also increasingly at risk of having their business taken over by a foreign country or two.
That’s why a growing number of U.S. drugmakers are considering selling their drugs to foreign companies.
In recent months, these companies have started using an emerging technology to circumvent the restrictions on foreign ownership of American companies that have limited the number of foreign-controlled companies that can buy them.
The process has been dubbed the “anticipatory sales” model.
It allows drugmakers to take control of a foreign company with a relatively simple transaction.
The company then pays the drugmaker a fee that will give it the right to buy up to 50 percent of the company’s shares, which could then be used to pay off debt.
But the new technology is also being used by drugmakers in countries like China, where drugmakers must sell drugs to a foreign drugmaker even if they can’t sell directly to Americans.
For a company like Merck, this technology could be a game changer.
“This is a very powerful tool for our business,” said Dr. John M. Hagedorn, the chairman and chief executive of Merck and a former chief executive officer of Pfizer.
The strategy is being used to buy pharmaceutical companies like Merks, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Sanofi, which together are worth more than $1.5 trillion.
But it’s also a potential threat for drugmakers that want to sell to more countries.
“If we want to do business in the U.K., for example, we need to sell a drug to a company that’s not part of the U, but we don’t want to be forced to sell that to a Chinese company,” said John P. Gribbon, a professor of law at George Washington University.
“The Chinese government could take over the company.”
In the past, pharmaceutical companies have used the technology to acquire smaller companies with little or no exposure to the U-shaped world of drugmakers.
For instance, in the early 2000s, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer acquired the company BioMed Research Laboratories, an Irish company that produced generic drugs to treat hepatitis C. After Pfizer purchased BioMed, Pfizer paid $400 million to the Irish company to acquire its shares in the company.
In 2012, Pfizers parent company AstraZeneca bought the stock of a French drugmaker called AbbVie.
Pfizer was also able to acquire shares of Sanofi after it bought the French drug company Medivation, and the two companies merged in 2015.
“We are not interested in selling to a U.A.E. or a foreign-owned company, as some have speculated,” said Mr. Gibbon, referring to countries with government control over foreign companies like India and China.
The U.s. government, which is the world leader in drug discovery and manufacturing, does not currently have a blanket prohibition on foreign-held pharmaceutical companies buying U. S. companies, according to a 2014 report from the government’s Office of Government Ethics.
But under a 2009 law, the government has limited the amount of foreign ownership that could occur to just 10 percent of a company’s stock, with the expectation that it will be limited to 10 percent for all of a country’s drugs.
“There’s no clear regulatory framework to prevent foreign ownership, and this technology does nothing to advance that goal,” said David A. Cohen, a law professor at Harvard University and former antitrust prosecutor.
The technology can also allow pharmaceutical companies to buy U. a country, or a certain group of countries, and still pay a foreign government to acquire a large percentage of its shares.
The key to the technology is that it allows the company to take on a large foreign investor in the form of a subsidiary.
That subsidiary would then be paid off by the foreign investor, but the company retains the right of ownership over its own shares.
For example, if the company bought a subsidiary in China that made the drug Zantac, the foreign government would buy those shares for Pfizer at an attractive price.
If the foreign company did not buy the shares for the U.-owned company in China, Pfisher could still use its own stock as collateral to pay the Chinese company.
Under the technology, Pfishers shares are not tied to the foreign investment, which means Pfisher would still have the right not to sell those shares to the Chinese government.
“For a company to be able to make that sort of a transfer of control, you have to have a mechanism to hold the foreign money that they hold in trust, or to hold it in a way that doesn’t give it a beneficial use,” said Mark Rosen, a partner at