Schering-Plough's chief executive Fred Hassan said the company is aggressively shopping for new drugs to fill its thinning pipeline, The Wall Street Journal reported today. Hassan said in the newspaper report that he plans to use the $9 billion in profit the company repatriated from overseas operations to strike deals for late-stage drug candidates from other companies and possibly buy the companies themselves. Hassan also said he has set up business development teams and licensing groups "ready to move depending on the opportunity," but he plans to do much of the initial outreach to potential partners himself. "My personal involvement will make it possible for us to move quickly," Hassan said. In pursuing a deal, he said, "very often I make the first call and not necessarily to the CEO." Some on Wall Street think a rival such as Merck – the company that Schering-Plough has partnered with to sell the cholesterol drug Vytorin -- might buy the company, the article stated. Hassan said Schering-Plough would remain open to the possibility of a deal, but he believes it is strong enough to survive in its own. "We are growing very nicely," he said. "We're attracting good people from much larger companies."