Senator Elizabeth Warren, a vocal advocate for stronger antitrust regulations, expressed deep disappointment with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its decision to permit pharmaceutical giant Amgen to proceed with its acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics.
The deal, valued at $28 billion, was a rare attempt by the FTC to halt a pharmaceutical merger. However, the agency ultimately settled with the involved companies, allowing the merger to proceed, much to Warren’s dismay.
Warren, a Democrat who has consistently backed the FTC and Justice Department’s more robust stance on mergers during President Joe Biden’s administration, issued a rare rebuke to these antitrust enforcers, urging them to take an even more stringent approach.
In a letter addressed to FTC Chair Lina Khan and two commissioners, dated Wednesday, Senator Warren voiced her concerns about the potential repercussions of the merger on the cost and accessibility of pharmaceuticals. She wrote, “I remain concerned regarding the effects of this deal on the price and availability of medicine.”
The FTC had initially filed a lawsuit in May to prevent the merger, marking a rare instance of the agency trying to block a pharmaceutical industry merger. However, the agency later reached a settlement with both Amgen and Horizon Therapeutics, allowing the deal to close in October.
The terms of the settlement included specific requirements that Amgen must adhere to, such as refraining from bundling any of its products with two Horizon medicines: Tepezza, used to treat thyroid eye disease, and a medicine for chronic gout known as Krystexxa.
Senator Warren expressed reservations about these and other behavioral remedies outlined in the settlement, noting that they may be challenging to administer, enforce, and lose their binding nature once the agreement’s term ends, even if the anticompetitive effects persist. Some elements of the FTC’s settlement with Amgen are set to expire in nine years, while others have a 15-year horizon.
Additionally, Senator Warren urged both the FTC and the Justice Department to expedite the finalization of updated merger guidelines, emphasizing their critical role in challenging transactions that could further solidify the dominance of companies like Amgen. In her letter, she stated, “The FTC should urgently finalize the proposed guidelines and rely on them in challenging transactions that would further entrench a dominant company like Amgen.”
Source: W TV Bam