Behind the let's-make-a-deal curtain

We've all seen plenty of headlines about pharma deals lately. Big Kahuna is merging with Moby Dick, Such-and-Such has inked a development deal with So-and-So, ect. But as much deal talk as we've taken part in recently, we can't resist behind-the-scenes stories about how those transactions came into being.

Hoping that you like to look behind the press release curtain as much as we do, we're passing on two such tales. First, there's United Therapeutics and its agreement to develop and commercialize the Eli Lilly drug tadalafil as a remedy for pulmonary arterial hypertension. Roger Jeffs, president of the smaller company, thought Lilly's initial phone call to him was nothing but a prank. While attending a PAH conference, Jeff got the call: A Lilly exec asked if United Therapeutics would be interested in partnering up on tadalafil. "I thought I was on candid camera," Jeffs told the Washington Post. There's more, so check out the full story.

Then there's the Merck and AstraZeneca pair-up on cancer-drug development. The companies are hooking up on a couple of early-stage molecules; they're billing the partnership as a first of its kind. And that arrangement never would have come about if two scientists hadn't met at an airport security checkpoint. A Merck researcher and another from AstraZeneca started chatting about their work, In Vivo reports, and and by the end of the conversation figured that there would be "a compelling rationale for getting these molecules together," a Merck SVP told the blog. In Vivo has more on that serendipitous conversation. We wonder whether Merck and AstraZeneca are giving thanks for the TSA.

- read the Post article
- see the In Vivo post