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Shire Shifts Upstream

Executive Summary

Shire's latest acquisition, of Canada's BioChem Pharma, is its sixth in as many years, and the clearest sign yet of the shift which the UK-based specialty pharmaceutical company has to make towards earlier-stage research in order to keep up its impressive growth. Behind this growth is its low-risk Search & Development strategy: it seeks out promising, undervalued specialist-market drugs which it develops for new indications, or else finds new formulations for, after which it hands them on to its highly focused marketing and sales teams. A series of acquisitions-bolting on products, development programs and skills-has allowed Shire to quickly expand globally and broaden its portfolio. But as drugs get harder to find and more expensive, the company has had to throw its S&D net wider.

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