What's the next pharma deal? Fill in the blank

Dealmaking fever is contagious. That's gospel according to Wall Street, which starts thinking about the next merger as soon as the latest one hits the media. So we shouldn't be surprised that the chatter started less than 24 hours after Merck and Schering-Plough announced their tie-up. Nor should the fact that the selfsame chatter started to move markets.

To wit: AstraZeneca's shares jumped to $30.67 from $29.62 on talk that GlaxoSmithKline might take it over. Glaxo's stock moved, too, forcing the company to pronounce itself uninterested in a big merger. A major deal with a big rival would distract GSK from its core strategy, the company said.

Meanwhile, there's talk of Sanofi-Aventis as suitor, with Bristol-Myers Squibb as target, despite CEO Chris Viehbacher's repeated assertions that he's not into big deals. AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson also might be eyeing Bristol, the New York Times reports. Even Eli Lilly makes the list of possible targets, despite its recent buyout of ImClone Systems; the market has depressed Lilly stock, making the company relatively cheap, analysts said.

- find the AstraZeneca news in the Daily Express
- read the Glaxo story in Crain's Manchester Business
- see the NYT DealBook post
- check out the Seeking Alpha story