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January 26, 2009
Pfizer / Wyeth: Different This Time?
The Pfizer/Wyeth deal is on, and I would really, really prefer to write about something else this morning. The main thing we can hope for is that the company has decided, just possibly, that its previous takeovers didn’t quite work out the way that they were supposed to on paper, and has resolved to run this one differently. The fact that Wyeth doesn’t have One Huge Drug (the way Warner-Lambert had Lipitor, or Pharmacia-Upjohn had Celebrex), gives me at least a little hope. But, as people were pointed out in the comments to Friday's post, there's no way that you can make this deal work without a lot of layoffs.
What’s frustrating about the way Pfizer’s been going is that I don’t think they’ve necessarily been trying to destroy things. It’s just that they’re so massive that it’s hard for them to pick anything up without crushing it. I could be wrong about that – perhaps there’s an official strategy document somewhere that reads:
“Buy company. Strip of immediately valuable pipeline assets and turn over to Marketing Hordes. Fumble with rest of drug discovery pipeline for a few years while trying to figure out where in the massive scheme of things its parts might fit. Realize that the stuff you bought is going off patent – how time flies! Realize that you have too many sites and too many people – close 'em down, lay 'em off. Realize that, for some reason, you have nothing new ready to sell. Go back to step one. Repeat for as long as there's another drug company.”
If this hasn’t been the plan, it might as well have been. Do it differently this time, guys, if you can. The industry can’t take this stuff forever. If people had internal organs that behaved the way Pfizer has the last ten years, we’d be developing drugs to treat them.
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