A quartet of US firms has won lead roles on Merck’s $41bn acquisition of pharmaceuticals rival Schering-Plough.

Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson partners David Shine, Philip Richter, William Reindel and Damian Ridealgh led a team advising Merck on the deal. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz partner Andy Brownstein advised Schering-Plough.

Merck is a longstanding Fried Frank client. In 2004 partners Shine, David Shapiro and Jonathan Lewis advised the pharmaceutical company on its acquisition of Aton Pharma.

On the Schering-Plough acquisition Shearman & Sterling New York-based partners Peter Lyons, Jessica Nielsen and Eliza Swann led the team advising Morgan Stanley as underwriter while Sullivan & Cromwell partners George Sampas and Stephen Kotran advised co-underwriter Goldman Sachs.

The deal comes at a time of consolidation in the pharmaceuticals industry.

Earlier this year The Lawyer reported that Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft partner Dennis Block led the firm’s team that advised Pfizer on its $68bn takeover of rival Wyeth. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett partner Casey Cogut advised Wyeth on the deal.

Wachtell also had a role on the Wyeth deal, advising the company’s board of directors.

Last summer The Lawyer reported on Davis Polk & Wardwell client Roche’s $45.7bn bid for US drug giant Genentech. Genentech instructed longstanding adviser Latham & Watkins.

All firms involved in the Merck deal were unavailable for comment.