Weeks after a three-way multibillion-dollar burst of asset swapping by GlaxoSmithKline plc, Novartis AG and Eli Lilly and Co., Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. Inc. have joined the Big Thinker pharmas doing large deals with designs on reinvention.

All the players have been shedding non-core businesses and vowing to grow by targeted investing. But beyond that, the