New Merck in the hunt for biotech buyouts, new pacts

Merck CEO Richard Clark (photo) went to some pains yesterday to make it clear that the merger with Schering-Plough in no way diminishes the pharma giant's appetite for biotech deals. If anything, he says, the bigger company has only grown more hungry.

Over the past six years Merck has averaged 50 deals a year, Clark tells the AP. And it has $8 billion in the bank for the planned deal-making spree. "We'll actually do more and maybe even try to double it," he told the AP, targeting "biotech companies that have first or best-in-class products that can build our franchises." In a separate interview with the Wall Street Journal, Clark said that the New Merck will also be in the hunt for new biotech acquisitions, looking for buyouts in the "single-digit billions."

"Breakthrough innovations have a better chance of occurring more quickly because of the company's focus on external partnerships and collaborations," says Clark in an op-ed piece in Forbes. "We are humble enough to know that only a fraction of the science that drives innovation will come from inside the walls of our laboratories."

High up on the shopping list are experimental therapies for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, women's health and vaccines. In the meantime, you can expect to hear a lot about layoffs and a pipeline review as these two big companies are mashed into one.  

- here's the piece from the Wall Street Journal
- check out the AP story
- read the op-ed in Forbes

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