OXFORD - It has taken only a year and a half to bury the fantasy of the fully integrated life sciences company model, which postulated ephemeral synergies between drug, agbio, agrichemical and nutriceuticals businesses. Last week's decision by Novartis AG and AstraZeneca plc to spin out and merge their agribusinesses to form Syngenta AG, leaving two stand-alone pharmaceutical companies, will now focus attention on how the two drug companies will survive in a dog-eat-dog world.

Both companies are justifying the formation of Syngenta (Basel, Switzerland) on the premise that pharmaceutical and agribusinesses work better independently than together. Tom McKillop, CEO of AstraZeneca (London, U.K.), acknowledged this is a breakdown of the fully integrated life science company (Filsco) model, raised with great fanfare last year by the aborted effort of American Home Products and