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12:00 AM
Jul 12, 2004
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Merck's small company epiphany

Not so long ago, Merck & Co. Inc. was pharma's poster child for not-invented-here syndrome. But of late, the company has been engaged in one of the more aggressive bouts of preclinical and discovery stage deal making in the industry, committing more capital to preclinical deals than to Phase III deals over the last seven months. Indeed, since the beginning of 2003, MRK has signed what could be the three biggest early-stage deals in terms of total potential value. According to the company, the change is due to its conviction that the quality of discovery research has improved.

According to Merv Turner, senior vice president of worldwide licensing and external research, MRK believes that the "democratization" of drug discovery has leveled the playing field, allowing companies of almost any size to do the kind of high quality discovery and preclinical research that once was the purview of big pharma.

"There has been a change in the ability of small companies to do drug discovery," Turner said. "Many of the tools required for research that once resided largely within pharmaceutical companies are now generally...

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