Carl Icahn's not through with biotech yet

More

So Carl Icahn is back to make another attempt at the board of directors of Biogen, one of the largest of the biotech companies. (For reasons that a securities lawyer would best be able to figure out, Icahn is also proposing to change the company's jurisdiction of incorporation to North Dakota, and no, I'm not just making that part up). This comes after his adventure at Imclone, where he successfully caused the company to cease to exist, selling it out to Eli Lilly at a good profit.

The people who work at Biogen are worried, with good reason. Icahn is seen as a fast-buck artist, someone who comes in to pump up the stock and unload the company, entire or in pieces, to whomever will pay. None of this has much to do with the business of researching new drugs. That's always been a source of tension in the industry (marketers and researchers don't seem to have genomes that overlap very much). But a Carl Icahn represents the furthest that the it's-a-business attitude can go: not only is it just a business, it's a short-term one, and you're not making what you should out of what you've got, and why don't you just sell it all out now? "Here, move over, let me show you what I mean. . ."

What this will do is spread more worry and uncertainty around in a business that already had plenty, thanks very much. And if Biogen's shareholders and board don't tell Icahn to buzz off, it could well end, eventually, with the company dismembered and its scientific expertise scattered or lost outright. But profitably, of course. Always profitably.

Derek Lowe blogs from inside the drug labs at In the Pipeline.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Lowe

Derek Lowe is a drug discovery chemist with 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, which is still very much his day job. He's worked on projects targeted at Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, and other areas, but like most discovery scientists in the business, he has yet to produce a marketed drug. Explaining how and why this happens is what led to the launch of his blog, "In the Pipeline", in 2002, and the explaining continues. . .
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In