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Those keeping tabs on New York-based Pfizer’s presence in San Diego, and its influence on the biotechnology industry in general, should take a look at this story by The New York Times’ Andrew Pollack.

In the recent past, Pfizer officials had made a point of saying that they were interested in increasing their acquisitions of biotechnology companies, welcome news for an industry struggling mightily in the economic crisis. However, that might not be the case now that the pharma giant shelled out $68 billion for rival drug maker Wyeth.

This from Pollack’s story:

“There are probably 5,000 biotech companies out there that are waiting for a deal to save them,” said Oleg Nodelman, portfolio manager at the Biotechnology Value Fund, which invests in smaller biotechnology companies. Pfizer executives say they remain interested in alliances and deals. “We are going to continue to look at opportunities for innovative drugs and technology,” Corey S. Goodman, the president of Pfizer’s Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center in South San Francisco, Calif., said Monday.

But others say the debt that Pfizer took on to buy Wyeth might preclude it in the short run from buying any but the smallest of biotech companies. And when two big companies merge, talks for deals with smaller companies tend to get put on the back burner, as management’s attention is diverted and the newly combined company assesses its research pipeline.

Pfizer employs more than 800 at a research and development facility in San Diego. As I wrote yesterday, the company plans to layoff about 10 percent of the workers at the San Diego plant. It is unknown whether the Wyeth acquisition will mean more local layoffs.

DAVID WASHBURN

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