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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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February 6, 2009

Short Business Notes: AstraZeneca, Biogen, Vertex

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Posted by Derek

AstraZeneca's CEO bets on China, and says that company isn't in the market or a big merger or acquisition. (The same comments that came up when GSK said this the other day can be assumed to have been made, if readers want to save time. . .)

Carl Icahn is making another run at Biogen, nominating his own candidates for the company's board of directors. This will doubtless be an ongoing soap opera for some time.

From another board of directors' meeting, a change at the top at Vertex.

Comments (16) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. NH_chem on February 6, 2009 10:15 AM writes...

Sadly for the employees of Biogen, as long as Ichan is around, moral will not ever get better. Too bad, I hear it is a great place to work.

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2. Hap on February 6, 2009 12:44 PM writes...

I hope it goes OK for Vertex.

Icahn sounds like a fun guy to date, as long as you have a Taser close at hand. Dude, which part of "No" don't you understand - the "N" or the "O"?

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3. NH_chem on February 6, 2009 1:55 PM writes...

I'd pay to hear Ichan say "Bro, don't taze me!".........sorry, it's Friday.........

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4. Anonymous on February 6, 2009 11:04 PM writes...

Icahn is tearing Biogen IDEC apart from the inside. He is absolute trash. Who could say with a straight face that BIIB is not a well run organization?

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5. 2cents on February 7, 2009 10:09 AM writes...

The gossip mill says that Boger leaving signifies that Vertex is getting ready for M&A.

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6. drug_hunter on February 7, 2009 3:15 PM writes...

It is always interesting to see, whenever there is a change in leadership in a pharma/biotech, how a diverse range of views immediately surface:

- it is great, it signifies the organization is growing up or fixing a problem

- it is horrible, it means there is a crisis (e.g. a clinical program is failing) and the leadership is bailing out

- it is horrible, it means the company has lost its roots/uniqueness and is selling out

- there must be a scandal

- the company must be for sale

Most of the speculation of course is wildly inaccurate but I guess lots of people think its a fun game to play.

As an example from pharma: I remember when Richard Clark became CEO of Merck nearly four years ago - a widely held view at the time was that this meant Merck was "immediately in play" i.e. wanted to be purchased. Still waiting for that shoe to drop...

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7. milkshake on February 7, 2009 3:36 PM writes...

I second the merger guess for Vertex. After all they have been operating with major losses.

Over the years I have seen several sudden departures of a high-level bosses. In all cases it was either
a)Their way to deal with a scandal (such as when they were about to be investigated by FBI and suspended) b) They got a wind the looming merger.
c) Company was going to dogs.
Sometimes they had a this knowledge half- or even one year before anybody else, and they took the first good offer to bail out. And always they gave a bogus explanation to the assembled staff.

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8. the stranger on February 7, 2009 8:09 PM writes...

For what it's worth, I also am thinking merger regarding Vertex. Vertex was Boger's baby - he wanted to be the one to show big pharma how it was done.

My guess is that there is an offer on the table for Vertex, and the board told Boger either to accept the offer or get out.

But, your guess is as good as mine...........

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9. Jeffrey Clark, CEO of for LIfe Sciences Professionals on February 7, 2009 10:58 PM writes...

Matt Emmens is a class executive. Did good things at EMerck then Shire. I don't believe Vertex would bring him in only to transact a deal.

The management at Biogen Idec must be losing sleep knowing that they can't shake Icahn. Jim Mullen and his team don't deserve all this.

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10. jgault on February 8, 2009 2:28 AM writes...

It smells like M&A over here at JNJ, the departure of Boger and the fact that JNJ owns a large chunk of Telapravir already is raising my short ones. Just a hunch.

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11. wavefunction on February 8, 2009 11:18 AM writes...

The Genentech-Roche thing has also been turning entertaining. As a recent BBC article says:

"The Wall Street Journal has been following the takeover struggle, but don't go near its website unless you're clad in flame-proof clothing. It's ablaze with many scores of comments from both sides of the fight. "Roche," says one, "you are an opportunistic sleazebag trying to take advantage of the US economy." To which a Roche defender says: "Genentech has a campus full of educated idiots."
The adjectives are certainly flowing fast

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12. lucifer on February 8, 2009 2:46 PM writes...

About time this happened! Maybe something like this is necessary for highlighting the problems in big pharma.

Common Interest - Beliefs & Causes

Make bankers accountable for the mess! They got rich HIDING RISK and put INNOCENT people in this mess.

Join the "two horsemen" (Nouriel and Nassim) in extracting justice for the small guy.

Mission Statement: At Davos 2009, one of the 2 horsemen was quoted as saying that people like Robert Rubin, who received over $100 million serving as chairman of New York-based Citigroup Inc.'s executive committee, need to be punished for their failure to understand the risks their institutions were taking. He said that unless Rubin and others like him are made to mandatorily return their bonuses or are given some other punishment, the system that regrettably emerges is one "in which it’s the worst of capitalism and socialism, a situation in which profits were privatized and losses were socialized. We taxpayers have the worst.”

"This will stand as the biggest government-sponsored scam in history". Bankers are way ahead; they MISPREPRESENTED their risks; the small guy is paying the price.

We cannot live in a society without accountability

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13. Hap on February 9, 2009 10:01 AM writes...

Funny, if Genentech is a bunch of "uneducated idiots", then why does Roche want to drop $42e9 to buy them (and retain them, if the retention bonus thing is correct)? Apparently some of the money spent on a daytrader account would have been better spent on basic logic classes.

The Roche/Genentech affair sounds way too much like either an incipiently bad relationship or the Manny Ramirez free-agency fiasco for any comfort.

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14. fred on February 9, 2009 3:20 PM writes...

"Funny, if Genentech is a bunch of "uneducated idiots", then why does Roche want to drop $42e9 to buy them (and retain them, if the retention bonus thing is correct)?"

Because biologicals, in spite of their shortcomings, are chic this year.

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15. Hap on February 9, 2009 3:45 PM writes...

If they want chic, why don't they just buy Donna Karan (or just the entire fashion industry) and be done with it? That would be lot more chic for the cash, and the press conferences would probably be much more interesting as well.

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16. CMC Guy on February 11, 2009 3:22 PM writes...

Seems regardless of what happens at Vertex the departing CEO got a sweet deal:

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