LINDA A. JOHNSON

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) ¿ The burst of drugmaker mergers announced in the first quarter is worth nearly 50 percent more than all the industry deals announced in 2008, according to a new report.

Deals in the quarter had a combined value of $166 billion, more than 10 times the value of deals announced in last year's first quarter and well over the $114 billion in deals announced in all of 2008.

That's according to a report released Monday by The Mergermarket Group of New York and London.

First-quarter deals include three involving the 10 largest drugmakers.

The Roche Group bought the 44 percent of Genentech Inc. it didn't already own for $47 billion. Pfizer Inc. is buying Wyeth for $64 billion and Merck & Co. is buying Schering-Plough Corp. for $43 billion. Those deals are set to close in the fourth quarter.

Other sizable deals announced from January through March include Abbott Laboratories buying Advanced Medical Optics Inc. for $2.8 billion, including debt, and Gilead Sciences Inc. buying CV Therapeutics Inc. for $1.4 billion.

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