Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Pharma: Pharmapfizer? Merger Leaves Questions for Vendors


The proposed $60 billion stock-for-stock merger between Pfizer and Pharmacia could be a bellwether for the future of genomics technologies in big pharma. The combined company will be the largest pharmaceutical firm in the world, with an annual R&D budget of more than $7 billion.

But the sheer volume of funds won’t be a clear boon to the bioinformatics and proteomics vendors trying to get their foot in the door (or keep it there). Most analysts estimate that pharmas spend about seven percent of their R&D budget on informatics, putting the company’s potential spending at around $490 million. But with the pressure on to move the glut of genomics-based targets downstream, it’s likely that bioinformatics will claim only a portion of that spending, with the lion’s share going to cheminformatics and other in silico approaches.

On the other hand, vendors may benefit from the merger in the long run: analysts predict that outsourcing will soon become the norm in informatics departments. That means the united Pfizer-Pharmacia could be a very good bioinformatics customer in a year or two. Both pharmas already have partnerships in the field — with Celera Genomics, Center for Genomics Research at Karolinska Institute, Entelos, Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, Gene Logic, Gene-IT, Incyte Genomics, Inpharmatica, LifeSpan BioSciences, Lion Bioscience, and Scimagix — and could be willing to pursue more. (Incyte and Celera stand to lose some business, since they have agreements with both pharmas.)

Proteomics vendors, meanwhile, are wondering what effect the deal will have on their ability to sell tools to the behemoth company. Those involved in high-end equipment sales and technology development might not notice a difference, industry watchers say. The pressure to remain competitive means that big pharma lab managers will still get the green light to order high-end mass specs and protein separation equipment deemed valuable for discovering new targets and drugs. Low-end lab technology, though, might feel the brunt of any upcoming cuts.

And suppliers with collaborations with pharma might be able to use this merger — and, indeed, the continuing consolidation trend — to their advantage to extend existing relationships to the rest of the newly combined entity. Compugen, for one, hopes its recently renewed collaboration with Pfizer’s Ann Arbor, Mich., R&D center will pave the way to license its 2D gel analysis more widely throughout the combined company.

— John S. MacNeil and Bernadette Toner

The Scan

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.

Machine Learning Improves Diagnostic Accuracy of Breast Cancer MRI, Study Shows

Combining machine learning with radiologists' interpretations further increased the diagnostic accuracy of MRIs for breast cancer, a Science Translational Medicine paper finds.

Genome Damage in Neurons Triggers Alzheimer's-Linked Inflammation

Neurons harboring increased DNA double-strand breaks activate microglia to lead to neuroinflammation like that seen in Alzheimer's disease, a new Science Advances study finds.

Long COVID-19 Susceptibility Clues Contained in Blood Plasma Proteome

A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.