Good news for dealmakers

$14B consumer health sale gives Merck firepower to expand BD&L deals

While Merck & Co. Inc. continues its stepwise downsizing, the pharma is sending signals that the welcome mat is out for BD&L deals.

The pharma made good on its plan to seek alternatives for its consumer health business with last week's sale of the unit to Bayer AG for $14.2 billion.

Chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier told analysts at a May 6 R&D day the pharma would like to use the new cash to help supplement its pipeline through licensing and acquisitions.

"What we're very focused on is augmenting our pipeline through value-creating business development opportunities," he said.

Large-scale acquisitions are likely off the table - Frazier already had said as much during an April earnings call.

"Our preferred route, therefore, of driving long-term shareholder value is through innovation rather than consolidation," he said. "We will remain focused on the opportunities that are right before us in advancing our pipeline."

He added that Merck prefers smaller bolt-on acquisitions to big mergers.

Last week, Merck said immuno-oncology is a top priority in terms

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