×

Novartis Has Eyes For Alcon

Well, that didn't take long.

Novartis
AP
Novartis

It's only the first business day of the new year and big pharma's already gettin' down to business. Novartis is buying the rest of its Swiss neighbor Alcon for a cool $40 billion.

ACL is probably best known for its contact lens solutions. I've never worn contacts, but sometimes in the spring I've had to get prescriptions for Alcon's Patanol to use on days when pollen or whatever severely irritates my eyes.

And that's not the only deal of the day in biopharma. The size of the second one pales in comparison, but a private German company is scooping up a tiny California biotech, BioForm Medical , for about a quarter-billion bucks.

The two deals go down exactly one week before the annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference starts in San Francisco. It's the first and, by far, the biggest investment conference of the year for the sector. Hundreds of companies and thousands of analysts and investors are there. Plus, the corporate BD or biz dev (that's in-the-know industry shorthand for business development) folks are there in full force sniffing out their next potential partnership or takeout target. Conference veterans will tell you JPM is where a bunch of deals are born.

But here on the first trading day of 2010, two deals are already done.

P.S. I'll be reporting live from JPM all day on Tuesday the 12th. Details on CEO interviews to come.

  • Video: The Novartis Deal

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com and follow me on Twitter at mhuckman