This report was compiled by BioCentury staff writers Kathryn Calkins, Steve Edelson, Eric Pierce, Mike Ward, & Ilan Zipkin.

In the wake of the recent deal for Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. to be acquired by Warner-Lambert Co., the mounting expectation that Johnson & Johnson plans to buy Centocor Inc. may raise the prospect that top-tier biotech is undergoing a new round of takeouts by big pharma.

But biotech's biggest names have strengths and weaknesses in terms of their attractiveness to big pharma, whose members themselves have widely differing needs for profit and pipeline enhancements that big biotech might provide. Thus, it is hard to define a global rationale for the takeout of big cap biotech by big pharma.

Indeed, the argument can be made that CNTO provides an unusual acquisition opportunity, while the pursuit of takeouts may be more attractive to emerging top tier biotechs than to the pharma side.

Pharma drivers

As noted by Rabobank International analyst Sam Fazeli, a big pharma company might have one or more parochial reasons to take a controlling stake in a biotech company or to acquire one.