Commitment To Discovery Author: MYRNA E. WATANABE

Junk bonds were the financial cause célèbre in the 1980s, but in the mid-'90s, the mega-merger-in media, banking, or pharmaceuticals-has taken center stage. Although it may be argued that all such deals revolve around the bottom line, profits, and increased stock prices, for drug companies, the directions they follow as a result of these monster corporate pairings take on an added dimension: Lives depend upon the drugs they manufacture.

Venture capitalist Larry Bock, a general partner in Avalon Ventures in La Jolla, Calif., who has founded a dozen biotechnology firms, confirms that the aims of these major consolidations are not research-related, but rather "were done more for sales and marketing reasons" than for advancing the basic mission of the company.

Clinicians, researchers, and many in the general public fear that the current merger mania will see pharmaceutical firms cut research and development programs...

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