A Drug Giant's Allergic Reaction

At the root of Pharmacia & Upjohn's woes: A culture clash

It was a heady time for John L. Zabriskie. In early 1994, soon after learning he wouldn't get the top job at drugmaker Merck & Co., the 28-year Merck veteran jumped to the struggling Upjohn Co. as its new CEO. Eighteen months later, he unveiled an ambitious plan to merge the Kalamazoo (Mich.) company with Sweden's Pharmacia. Investors cheered, boosting the new Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc.'s market value more than 70%, to a June, 1996, peak of $22.6 billion. For Zabriskie, it was sweet revenge. But the prospect of closing in on his old employer was sweeter. "I can't wait until they're chasing me," he confided at the time. "I would love it."

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