Being a service provider can be a bit like being a mother: if you take care of others, it's hard to take care of yourself. For companies that want to develop their own products for marketing, the infrastructure necessary to provide services to customers while also supporting internal discovery and development can be difficult to amass.

Privately held Alanex Corp. found a solution in the shelter provided by a larger company, agreeing to be acquired last week for 1 million shares of stock by Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AGPH, La Jolla, Calif.). But rather than being totally subsumed within the larger organization, the transaction is structured so that Alanex can retain its own identity and programs, sharing expertise with AGPH. The acquisition shields Alanex (San Diego, Calif.) from other service provider competition while the company gets the chance to see its own compounds brought forward under AGPH's drug development program.