Stage Now Set for Long-Awaited MRK/INO Partnership
Layoff of 8,500 MRK employees (many of them in R&D) frees up cash ($2.5 billion) and clears the deck for a new partnership in vaccine development and research, MRK's newly declared core emphasis. The best candidate for this partnership? INO, a company led by former MRK researchers, now seen as a leader in the field. As a vehicle to re-energize MRK's in house vaccine operation it makes sense. As a tactic to keep INO from being monopolized by competitors it's a no-brainer. The real question is not whether a deal is right for MRK but whether INO will be able to leverage it's position to extract maximum value for shareholders. Given how many Big Pharma cos. have decided to offload their R&D operations, given the unique status of INO, I would say MRK has roughly 3 mos. to do a deal.
I am as long as anyone for INO, but I would not think it is time for the MRK/INO merger. I really think the next deals we will see will deal with the other pipeline products, very similar to what we saw with Roche. Of all the pipeline products, I believe the next one that gets gobbled up is the Universal Flu Vaccine, they are really making it the most flexible and adaptable flu vaccine ever developed.