The prices being paid in the recent rash of pharmaceutical acquisition deals are “breath-taking,” Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan said in an interview with “They would have been unthinkable five years ago,” Hassan said. According to Hassan, the takeover craze has been fueled by a recent rash of patent expirations–Merck’s Zocor, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pravachol and Pfizer’s Zoloft. “The industry’s R&D engines are struggling to keep up with the expirations,” Hassan said. Hassan said his company doesn’t feel as strong a need to make a major merger or acquisition deal, “as our existing products (patents) go into the next decade.” Hassan also thinks his company can grow with its existing pipeline. Products in development include: *A Phase II blood thinner that could rival or be used in combination with Plavix*The Phase II HIV treatment vicriviroc *A protease inhibitor to treat hepatitis C, currently in Phase II testing * Golimumab, a potential successor to the rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade, in Phase II testing When asked about rumors suggesting Schering-Plough is eyeing a possible merger with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Hassan declined to comment. “But it’s nice that we’re doing so well that people are talking about us that way,” he said.