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Will Wyeth Revolutionize Research at Pfizer?

Last fall, when we visited Wyeth Biotech's campus in Andover, MA, we were blown away by the management's off-the-beaten-path approach to drug development and innovation. Now the storyline has hit an unexpected twist: Officials at Pfizer, the world's biggest drug company, are in talks to buy all of Wyeth — including its rogue biotech division — for around $60 billion. (So far, nothing is definite; reps from Wyeth and Pfizer are staying mum.)

If the deal does go down, Pfizer would acquire one of the world's best biotech operations virtually overnight without having to put in the grunt work of building a biotech brand from scratch, as Wyeth did. Pfizer's staked most of its fortunes these days on Lipitor, its wildly successful cholesterol drug, but buying Wyeth would enable the company to diversify and spread its bets a little. That may prove to be a critical move, especially since rumor has it Pfizer's research pipeline is starting to run dry. Stay tuned.