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FTC Issues Warning Letters to Pfizer, Thermo Fisher, and Others

 |  April 4, 2024
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent warning letters to hundreds of companies, including Pfizer, Baxter International, and Thermo Fisher Scientific, cautioning them that their acquisitions could face challenges even after the FTC’s antitrust review deadline has passed.

These warnings, termed “close-at-risk” letters, were sent between June 2021 and July 2022, uncovered through a Bloomberg investigation. The FTC, led by Chair Lina Khan, initiated this practice due to a surge in merger filings, aiming to regulate the overwhelming number of deals amid resource constraints.

Critics, including GOP commissioners, lawmakers, and business groups, have condemned the practice, arguing it could stifle legitimate merger activity. However, the FTC hasn’t dismantled any mergers despite issuing these warnings, per Bloomberg.

Related: Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson Settle Remicade Antitrust Suit

Under US merger law, deals exceeding $119.5 million must notify the government and wait 30 days for antitrust review. The 204 warning letters account for about 2.6% of the 7,700 merger filings during this period, significantly more than those leading to in-depth antitrust probes.

Pfizer’s $6.7 billion acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a notable case. Despite receiving the FTC’s warning, Pfizer closed the deal shortly after. Similar letters were sent to Baxter, Thermo Fisher, and Clarivate Plc, with all deals proceeding despite FTC caution.
Source: Bloomberg