I think it's safe to say that Novartis (NYSE:NVS) doesn't suffer from "not invented here" syndrome. Once again, this large Swiss drug company has opened its wallet to bulk up its portfolio of clinical-trial candidates.

In the first deal, Novartis is acquiring the rights to the compound agomelatine from France's Servier. Agomelatine seems to have similar efficacy to Wyeth's (NYSE:WYE) Effexor and/or GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE:GSK) Paxil, but perhaps comes with a better side-effect profile. Given recent concerns about the side effects of long-term antidepressant usage, that could be enough to set it apart in a crowded field.

It's not the drug's sales potential that makes this little deal interesting to me, but what the agreement says about the potential "Wal-Mart-ization" of the biotech world. Can smaller companies continue to compete and develop drugs in today's environment, or are they destined to be a sort of preclinical outsourcing service that needs major-company partnerships to see drugs actually hit the market?

Novartis also exercised its right to acquire Idenix Pharmaceuticals' (NASDAQ:IDIX) valopicitabine, for the treatment of hepatitis C. Still considered a reasonably promising drug, Idenix recently suffered a setback when it became clear that significant gastrointestinal problems caused by the drug would necessitate some tests of lower dosages before it could advance into phase 3 studies. All that said, Novartis already owns more than half of Idenix, so this opt-in had been roundly expected.

Last and not least, Novartis announced that it would collaborate with SGX Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SGXP) on BCR-ABL (a type of protein) inhibitor drugs targeted at treating myelogenous (bone marrow) leukemia. Novartis already has a stake in the ground here, since Gleevec is a BCR-ABL inhibitor, but drug resistance has proved to be a problem with some patients. It should be noted, though, that this is a very early-stage partnership, and it could take nearly a decade to see a marketable drug from this joint venture.

These are all reasonable deals for Novartis, but the long-term nature of drug development leads me to believe that they don't significantly change the company's outlook. If you liked Novartis before, which I did, this is a positive incremental step in pipeline-building. If you didn't like Novartis before, there really isn't much here that I imagine would change your mind.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).