Is Roche going to do some big rare disease drug deals?

Roche CEO Severin Schwan

So is Roche going to do some rare disease deals or not? Rumors of a possible buyout of Alexion ($ALXN) and BioMarin ($BMRN)--alternatively dissed and touted--helped make this one of the big questions for deal watchers. Roche CEO Severin Schwan's answer can now be summarized in one word: Maybe.

"We go where the science takes us, wherever it is, independent from the size of the patient population," Schwan told a crowd of reporters, according to a report from Reuters.

Roche ($RHHBY) has been going where the science took it in the cancer field to considerable acclaim, but it's looking to branch out into other disease categories, in particular autoimmune and inflammatory diseases as well as the neurosciences. That's where the industry should anticipate future headlines. But Roche is a big company with a big appetite that can't necessarily be satisfied by a handful of diseases.

Says Schwan: "So in those three areas naturally we are a partner of choice for many companies. But again, if there was an interesting opportunity outside of those established areas, I would be very open to look at it."

Roche has had considerable success with new cancer therapies in development at its Genentech subsidiary, dubbed gRED. The heat is on pRED now to turn around under the leadership of John Reed, who recently outlined the group's key initiatives in an interview with FierceBiotech.

- here's the report from Reuters

Special Report: John Reed sets out on a long-distance run at Roche's pRED