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SAN FRANCISCO — Celgene (CELG) did not buy Bluebird Bio (BLUE). Instead, it said Sunday that it was purchasing a private company developing a me-too myelofibrosis drug with safety issues that, if approved, will need to fight for patients with an entrenched and well-regarded competitor.

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say investors gathered here were expecting to stream into the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference Monday morning giddy with news of blockbuster biotech M&A. Celgene’s acquisition of Impact Biomedicines for $1.1 billion up front — and up to $7 billion total if all regulatory and sales milestones are are met — is not that deal.

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