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2008 Deals Of The Year

Executive Summary

Each week, "The Pink Sheet" presents commentary on some of the most interesting new business deals, contributed by the editors of the IN VIVO blog. As 2008 came to a close, the editors nominated the following transactions as their top deals of the year. Feeling moved to weigh in with your own favorite? 1Full write-ups of each deal and IVB's poll can be found at:

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Pfizer's Increasingly Specialist Focus

Pfizer's brand-new oncology business unit appears to be the linchpin in its transformation from primary care behemoth to specialty powerhouse. The Big Pharma also followed this up with the announcement that it was cutting early-stage R&D programs focused on obesity, bone health, and what has been its mainstay--cardiovascular disease. Together, these moves should be viewed as the most extreme example of the industry's flight from primary care medicine into the safer haven of specialty-focused pharmaceuticals,

Pharma's Strategic Divide: Focus or Diversify

It looks like the biggest strategic gulf in the industry: focus or diversify? If the CEO thinks he can't rely on R&D to grow his way out of the industry's revenue hole, get ready to live alongside generics and OTC businesses--though he'll downplay to investors the risks of managing different businesses by stressing the commonalities with the core branded efforts and probably won't move into wholly non-pharma businesses. If he's still committed to R&D--get ready for diversification of other sorts, and some pretty clever financial tactics.

GSK/Actelion: Phase III Value Is in the Eye of the Beholder

GSK paid a very large upfront fee ($148mm) for access to Actelion's Phase III insomnia candidate almorexant, but still some were disappointed; the Big Pharma is only paying 40% of the costs of the Phase III program. The truth is that even late-stage primary care assets--especially those with novel mechanisms of action--are under intense regulatory scrutiny and licensors are having to take on more risk.

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