If the rumored merger between Amgen Inc. and Immunex Corp. comes to pass, it will raise for the first time in biotech history a question that has been swept under the rug by big pharma: what is the ideal size for a drug company?

For years - and even occasionally today - big pharma has offhandedly dismissed the ability of biotechs to consistently come up with innovative drugs. In the past, this was often because biotech companies were simply viewed as incompetent. That is heard less frequently now, but pharma CEOs still can be heard to say, or imply, that biotech companies are too small.