The Decisive Moment: My Big Drug Buy

Last Updated Aug 27, 2010 5:31 PM EDT

Schering-Plough was once the sick man of pharma. When Fred Hassan became CEO in 2003, profits were falling, its patent on Claritin had just expired, and the FDA had whacked it with a $500 million fine for poor manufacturing processes. It was not a happy place.

Hassan slashed costs and boosted the drug pipeline, and three years later he declared the turnaround complete. But Hassan's ambitions did not stop there. In March 2007, he announced the biggest deal in the company's history: A $14.4 billion bid for Organon BioSciences, a division of the Dutch company, Azko Nobel. It was a dramatic bid. Organon was just days away from going public, and there was very little precedent of American pharma companies going after European businesses.

The deal closed in October 2007. And a little more than two years after that, Schering was involved in another major transaction—when it was swallowed up by Merck. Follow this link for Hassan's description of how he built a drug behemoth.

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