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Drug makers pressured on mega-mergers

MERCK & Co's US$41.1 billion takeover of Schering-Plough Corp is putting pressure on drug makers Sanofi-Aventis SA and AstraZeneca Plc to make mega-mergers of their own to gain new products.

Merck's agreement, which follows New York-based Pfizer Inc's US$68 billion bid for Wyeth, of Madison, New Jersey, and Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG's US$45.7 billion offer for Genentech Inc, of South San Francisco, will propel other drug makers fearful of missing opportunities, said David Moskowitz, an analyst with Caris & Co in Washington.

The world's biggest drug makers, armed with about US$100 billion, are seeking acquisitions to replace US$84 billion in sales from products nearing the end of their patent life, Bloomberg News said.

"Most companies now are pretty cheap and anyone sitting on cash can make a bid," said Nick Turner, a Mirabaud analyst in London.

"This could be a trigger for a wave of mergers and acquisitions."


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