A major reason biotech companies partner with pharma is to obtain access to large sales organizations that can address primary care and other broad markets. Alkermes Inc. may have found a different entrée to such markets by acquiring a minority stake in Reliant Pharmaceuticals LLC, a marketing company seeking to play in the size gap between big pharma and specialty pharmaceutical companies.

ALKS (Cambridge, Mass.) hopes last week's deal will help it move its own focus away from partners' products and toward commercializing its own.