Most provocative quote from the conference: Merck's ( MRK) worldwide head of licensing and acquisitions Roger Pomerantz telling Bloomberg, "Our goal is to be a leader in hepatitis C, and we will do what it takes to get there." Does that include making a hostile bid for Inhibitex ( INHX)? Hmmm…. On a related note, Merck's research chief doesn't believe the race to develop an all-oral Hep C regimen is winner-take-all. Speaking during Merck's breakout session, Kim said, "It's not clear how many patients the healthcare system can take at one time. It's also not clear how much the payors are going to open up the doors at one time. So the notion that you have a whole bunch of patients just rushing in
to get treated and then everything's done, we think, is not the right way to think about this. There is going to be time to sort of what is the optimal combination therapy." Two drugs I heard about for the first time this week that I want to dig into further: Clovis Oncology's ( CLVS) CO-101 (with its companion diagnostic) for pancreatic cancer and Nektar Therapeutics' ( NKTR) NKTR181, a novel painkiller designed to cross the blood-brain barrier more slowly and therefore reduce euphoria that can lead to abuse. Question: Do investors trust Ariad Pharmaceuticals' ( ARIA) CEO Harvey Berger to commercialize the leukemia drug ponatinib on his own? Celgene ( CELG): Rocking. Strong 2012 guidance, a management team exuded confidence and a calendar filled with big-time regulatory and clinical catalysts. Déjà vu: Sam Waksal back in front of a podium at the J.P. Morgan conference, this time pitching his new private company Kadmon Pharmaceuticals (which, by the way, is also involved in the hepatitis C drug game.) The last time Waksal spoke publicly at this conference wasn't fun -- for him. Burrito porn. If you must know, Taqueria Cancun at Mission and 19th St. --Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Adam Feuerstein. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/adamfeuerstein. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.