"Biobucks" have become a standing joke in the industry. But despite warnings about the dubious meaning of dollar signs attributed to deals, industry scorekeepers still look for transactions with gaudy numbers. Nevertheless, the advice still stands: investors and companies would do well to remember not to count their chickens until they are hatched.

A case in point is last week's termination of a May 1996 partnership between CoCensys Inc. and G.D. Searle & Co. to develop COCN's CCD 3693 epalon compound, a GABAA receptor modulator awaiting Phase II development to treat insomnia.