Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If Pfizer-Wyeth is Absurd, What do you think about BMS-Sanofi or BMS-Biogen-Idec or even BMS-Amgen or Sanofi.....?

It's no secret that Guy de Lastin and I feel very strongly that the Pfizer-Wyeth merger is a train wreck about to happen.

However, as long time members of the Life Sciences Industry, we know better than to think that this merger will be the only one to occur this year despite our earlier views (see our multiple blog articles on this subject over the last few months) that
there is no rational and compelling reason for these companies to consolidate.

So, let us speculate about what could happen next. Many Wall Street analysts and august financial papers suggest that BristolMyers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) is a maiden in distress and is being dressed up by its "savvy" management team to be taken to the alter.

If BMY is acquired, the leading contender may very well be Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) of Paris. There was an extensive article in yesterday's Financial Times on this subject,_i_email=y.html) and the truth be told, there is some merit in their thinking. SNY has lots of cash, a new CEO Chris Viehbacher, ex-Glaxo and runner up to Andrew Witty for that CEO job who is anxious to make a mark for himself by "expanding and diversifying" their business. And, oh lest we forget they share rights to PLAVIX, both companies' largest blockbuster and one that is beset by potential generic competition.

Let's suppose BMY want to be the acquirer, not the "acquiree". BUT, wait a minute, didn't BMY very recently get outfoxed by Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) in a very expensive acquisition of Imclone Systems and its blockbuster oncology pipeline known as Erbitux? It seems to us that BMY's strategy was a combination of expanding its oncology franchise, diversifying into large molecule (e.g. Biotechnology) science and hanging onto some potentially massive blockbuster extensions? If you believe that and BMY's management has learned a lesson,why not think that BMY looks at Biogen-Idec (NASDQ: BIIB) as an alternative or parallel version of its Imclone thinking. With a market cap of $14 billion or so, it could be affordable-NOT cheap, but very attractive with marketed and developing drugs in the areas of oncology, neurology, immunology, and cardiology in the United States and internationally. Its product set includes AVONEX for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS); RITUXAN for the treatment of relapsed or refractory low-grade or follicular, CD20-positive, B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphomas, or B-cell NHLs; TYSABRI for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS; and FUMADERM, an immunomodulator for the treatment of severe psoriasis ( This would be a very interesting fit with BMY's marketed products and pipelines. However, THE SAME COULD BE ALSO SAID FOR SNY!! Think of the fun, merriment and mirth that the bidding war could become!

Now, just for the pure joy of it, let's suppose that Amgen (NASDQ:AMGN) were thrown into this mix. What a powerhouse of a company despite some near term challenges. An attractive mix of marketed therapeutic products in supportive cancer care, nephrology, inflammation, and oncology. The company's principal products include Aranesp and EPOGEN that stimulate the production of red blood cells to treat anemia; Neulasta and NEUPOGEN, which selectively stimulate the production of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections; and ENBREL that blocks the biologic activity of tumor necrosis factor by inhibiting TNF, a substance induced in response to inflammatory and immunological ( and a potentially "golden" pipeline in each of these areas. One small challenge, AMGN's market cap at almost $60 billion dwarfs BMY at about $45 billion which at best suggests a merger of "near-equals" albeit some potentially very reluctant management and shareholders who may very well question the "synergies" and "value creation". Again substitute SNY (market cap over $75 billion) and does it make any more sense-we don't think so-do you?

As always, we are interested in your comments, please send them to

Contributed by Larry Rothman

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