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String of Pearls

In early 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. concluded it needed to give itself a dose of strong medicine if it were to survive and prosper. This meant doing a serious assessment of where it could be competitive, building on these areas and divesting or spending less where it wasn't strong.

Last week's acquisition of Kosan Biosciences Inc. falls squarely into the former category. It is designed to beef up BMS's epothilone pipeline by adding a compound to back up breast cancer drug Ixempra ixabepilone. But it was Kosan's three other programs that convinced Bristol-Myers that an acquisition made more sense than a license.

For its part, cash-strapped Kosan had been looking to partner out its epothilone program in order to finance a Phase III trial of tanespimycin to treat multiple myeloma (MM). But the company decided the pharma's offer of $234.6 million in cash for the whole shebang was an offer it couldn't refuse.

According to Jeremy Levin, SVP of external science, technology and licensing at BMS, the company concluded early last year was that it needed to increase its focus on novel therapeutics, "not unlike what were generated throughout the '80s and

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