Will 2009 be the Year of Consolidation?

The chattering classes are yakking most about Pfizer and Wyeth, but potential M&A runs a close second. Ask a pharma analyst, and you'll get a prediction on who's next--because everyone agrees that someone's next. Perhaps several someones. Maybe even a wave of someones.

Credit Suisse analyst Catherine Arnold wrote clients that a Pfizer-Wyeth combo could "market the beginning of a year of sector consolidation," the Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports. Deutsche Bank's Barbara Ryan agrees--and both tag Bristol-Myers Squibb as a possible target.

Other possibilities? Ryan says Biogen Idec, Schering-Plough and Amgen are prime possibilities for Pfizer if the Wyeth deal collapses. And in that case, Merck, Novartis or Sanofi-Aventis could step in to snatch Wyeth.

Johnson & Johnson and Merck could be the next pharmas to announce an acquisition, because both companies are cash-rich, Bloomberg notes (via the NYT).

In any case, the Pfizer-Wyeth deal could make hooking up almost irresistible. The combined company would be able to shed employees and other costs as it trims overlap. And the only way for other Big Pharma and Big Biotech companies to make similar cutbacks--considering that most have already slashed costs wherever they can--would be to merge.

- see the Health Blog's post
- check out the article in the NYT