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Merck's Deal Focus

Executive Summary

Merck & Co. Inc.'s recovery drive involves changing every aspect of its business, and doing so urgently. That urgency applies to partnering, too: In March 2006, the giant announced three new deals, one with NicOx on a series of anti-hypertension compounds, one with Neuromed in pain and the third with Paratek Pharmaceuticals Inc. for a Phase I antibiotic. They mark a shift at Merck towards more clinical stage dealmaking.

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The Rise of Regional Dealmaking

Biotechs' drive to retain a bigger chunk of downstream rights is forcing product-hungry Big Pharma to accept non-global licensing deals. They'll be up against existing regional players, more accustomed to sharing rights and prioritizing others' drugs.

NicOx Eyes Continued Comeback with Second Pfizer Deal

In early March, Pfizer licensed all ophthalmic rights to NicOx's nitric-oxide donating technology platform, just months after selecting and licensing a preclinical glaucoma candidate from the firms' previous, more narrow, collaboration. The moves have buoyed NicOx, which has been in the investor doghouse since 2003 when AstraZeneca chose to discontinue development of the firm's lead product, which was in Phase II trials for osteoarthritis pain.

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