On Thursday, Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) announced the acquisition of PanGenetics' pain drug PG110. Now I'm wondering how much this acquisition will hurt the company's ego.

Compare the structure of this deal with other recent deals:



Up Front




$170 million

$20 million

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY)

Alder Biopharmaceuticals

$85 million

May exceed $964 million*

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN)

Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR)

$125 million

$610 million*

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK)

Idenix Pharmaceuticals

$34 million**

$416 million*

Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB)

Acorda Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ACOR)

$110 million

$400 million*

Source: Company press releases.
*Out-licenser is also due royalties.
** Includes equity investment.

You can ignore the absolute values; the drugs are at different stages of development, and some deals include more than one drug. The important thing to notice is that Abbott is taking on most of the risk with the relatively larger up-front payment, and it'll only be on the hook for an additional $20 million if PG110 works. In all the other cases, the buyers have assumed less risk by tying the majority of payments to getting the drugs through the clinical trial process, getting them past the regulatory agencies, and then getting them to sell well.

Of course, the lower risk comes at a price. Abbott's only on the hook for $190 million total, and it doesn't appear to owe PanGenetics any royalties if the drug makes it to market. That'll make the drug look like a steal if PG110 succeeds.

Unfortunately, PG110 is only in phase 1 trials, so it'll be a few years before investors find out whether Abbott's gamble paid off.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.