Successful biotechs try to fend off Big Pharma

Big Biotechs may be the belle of the ball, but that doesn't mean they want attentions from Big Pharma suitors. At the BD Biotech Conference in Boston, biotech execs lamented the difficulty of avoiding acquisitive Big Pharma companies. Smaller, underfunded biotechs may look forward to the day they can ink a buyout deal, explains the Boston Globe. But larger developers like Alkermes Pharmaceuticals, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Biogen Idec have hundreds of employees and a number of products on the market, often making them particularly attractive to Pharma buyers even though they may not want to be purchased.

Though many of these larger biotechs would rather remain independent, the choice isn't left up to them. "It's not going to be your decision," explains Vertex CEO Matthew Emmens. "It's going to be the shareholders' decision. Somebody either comes up and writes you a check, or they don't.'' Alkermes CEO Richard Pops adds that all biotechs can do is try to make themselves look less attractive to larger companies. Genentech, purchased by Roche, and Genzyme, which is now part of Sanofi-Aventis, are perfect examples of Boston biotechs that landed in the hands of larger developers.

The industry's growing interest in Boston biotech is causing a cultural change in the region. Some executives fear that the casual, entrepreneurial spirit that made the region so successful will be replaced by pressure to quickly deliver new drugs. Emmens adds that it's important for biotechs in the area to maintain their desire to discover game-changing technologies. "Breakthoughs are the only way to go. You're not going to be able to increment your way to success," he observes.

- check out the Boston Globe article