Although the termination of the blockbuster merger between Monsanto Co. and American Home Products Corp. should have come as no surprise last week, the unwinding of another grand scheme by big pharma is a reminder that the biotech sector is not alone with its troubles.

Indeed, the declared motivation behind the Monsanto-AHP tie-up remains an unanswered challenge to both the biotech and pharma sectors. As with the earlier Big Thinkers deal to merge Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, which also aborted, the search for ways to increase the productivity of product development crosses all boundaries (see Big Thinkers, BioCentury, Feb. 9).