Biotech offers thrills as well as spills. Last week’s $9.7bn offer from Novartis catapulted shares in US biotech Medco to nearly four times their value a year ago. For early investors it was a reward for patience. The shares went nowhere much of the previous 20 years.

In this sector many are called, few are chosen. Biotechs are more likely to be bought out pricily — the ultimate mark of success — if a blockbuster drug is close to winning approval, or has won that validation.

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