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FTC Approves Final Order Preserving Competition in U.S. Markets for Medical Devices Used in Cardiac and Vascular Catheterization
Abbott Laboratories agreed to divest two medical device businesses to settle FTC charges that its proposed $25 billion acquisition of St. Jude Medical, Inc. would likely be anticompetitive. The FTC’s complaint alleges that without a remedy, the proposed acquisition would harm competition in the U.S. markets for vascular closure devices, which are used to close holes in arteries from the insertion of catheters, and for “steerable” sheaths, which are used to guide catheters for treating heart arrhythmias. Without a remedy, the merger will cause significant harm to competition in these two markets. The consent order requires the parties to divest to Tokyo-based medical device maker Terumo Corporation all rights and assets related to St. Jude’s vascular closure device business and Abbott’s steerable sheath business. The order requires both companies to assist Terumo with establishing its manufacturing capabilities. Under the order, Abbott is also required to notify the FTC if it intends to acquire lesion-assessing ablation catheter assets from Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics, known as ACT. Lesion-assessing ablation catheters provide feedback to physicians regarding the force being applied by the catheter or the temperature of the ablation target. Currently, only St. Jude and one other company provide lesion assessing ablation catheters in the United States. Abbott and ACT have formed a partnership to develop these catheters. After the acquisition of St. Jude, if Abbott acquired lesion-assessing ablation catheter assets from ACT, it could eliminate additional competition that would result from an independent ACT.
Wright Medical Group, Inc. and Tornier N.V. agreed to sell Tornier’s U.S. rights and assets related to its total ankle replacements and total silastic toe joint replacements to resolve FTC charges that the proposed $3.3 billion merger would illegally reduce competition for these devices. According to the complaint, the merger would likely substantially lessening competition in the U.S. markets for total ankle replacements and total silastic toe joint replacements. Under the settlement, Wright and Tornier will divest the rights and assets to these devices to Integra Lifesciences Corporation and provide Integra with intellectual property, manufacturing technology, and existing inventory, as well as other assets and assistance to ensure that Integra can effectively compete in the markets. The order also requires Wright and Tornier to supply Integra with total ankle replacements for up to three years and total silastic toe joint replacements for up to a year, while Integra transitions to become an independent competitor in these markets.
The FTC issued an administrative complaint charging that Steris Corporation’s proposed $1.9 billion acquisition of Synergy Health plc would violate the antitrust laws by significantly reducing future competition in regional markets for sterilization of products using radiation, particularly gamma or x-ray radiation. The Commission also authorized agency staff to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in federal court to maintain the status quo pending an administrative trial on the merits. According to the FTC, it is unlikely that new competitors in the market for contract radiation sterilization services would replicate the competition that would be eliminated by the merger. The Commission alleged that the challenged acquisition would eliminate likely future competition between Steris’s gamma sterilization facilities and Synergy’s planned x-ray sterilization facilities in the United States, thus depriving customers of an alternative sterilization service and additional competition. On September 25, 2015 the district court denied the FTC motion for a PI. On October 30, the Commission dismissed the administrative complaint.
Medical device company Zimmer Holdings, Inc. agreed to divest U.S. rights and assets related to unicondylar knee implants, total elbow implants, and bone cement in order to settle FTC charges that its proposed $13.35 billion acquisition of Biomet Inc. is anticompetitive. According to the complaint, Zimmer and Biomet are two of the only three substantial competitors in the U.S. markets for unicondylar knee implants and total elbow implants, and two of only four significant competitors in the U.S. market for bone cement. The order requires Zimmer to divest to Smith & Nephew the U.S. intellectual property, manufacturing technology, and existing inventory relating to its unicondylar knee implant, and to provide transitional services to help them establish manufacturing capabilities and secure necessary FDA approvals. The order also requires Biomet to divest to DJO the U.S. intellectual property, manufacturing technology, and existing inventory relating to its total elbow implant and bone cement products, and it facilitates DJO’s hiring of the Biomet sales representatives and other staff who work with these products.
FTC Approves Final Order Preserving Future Competition in the Market for Drug-coated Balloon Catheters Used to Treat Peripheral Artery Disease
Global medical technology company Medtronic, Inc. agreed to divest the drug-coated balloon catheter business of Ireland-based medical products company Covidien plc, in order to settle FTC charges that its $42.9 billion acquisition of Covidien would likely be anticompetitive. Under the FTC’s proposed settlement, Medtronic will sell the drug-coated balloon catheter business to a Colorado-based medical device company, The Spectranetics Corporation. According to the FTC’s complaint, both Medtronic and Covidien are developing drug-coated balloon catheters to compete with C.R. Bard, Inc., which currently is the only company that supplies these products, used to treat peripheral artery disease, in the U.S. market. Medtronic and Covidien are the only companies with products in clinical trials in the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, which makes it unlikely that other competitors could enter the market in time to counteract the effects of the merger.
FTC Action Halts Brooklyn Company from Using Deception, Threats, and Intimidation to Trick Elderly Consumers Into Paying for Unordered Medical Alert Devices
The largest U.S. supplier of diagnostic testing products used by small animal veterinarians, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., agreed to drop its exclusive-dealing arrangements with a top distributor, resolving FTC charges that it was using the exclusive arrangements to stifle competition. IDEXX has agreed to a settlement order that prohibits concurrent exclusive distribution arrangements with the three national distributors of point-of-care (POC) diagnostic testing products. According to the FTC’s complaint, IDEXX has used its dominant market power to reduce competition by threatening to drop the distributors if they carried other companies’ products that compete with IDEXX products.
The FTC required Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to sell its system for surgically treating serious wrist fractures, resolving charges that J&J's proposed $21.3 billion acquisition of Synthes, Inc. would illegally reduce competition for these systems. J&J intends to sell its system, known as DVR, along with the rest of its product line for treating traumatic injuries, to Biomet, Inc. According to the FTC's complaint, J&J's proposed acquisition of Synthes would harm competition in the U.S. market for volar distal radius plating systems, internal devices that are surgically implanted on the underside of the wrist to achieve proper alignment of the radius bone following a fracture.
The Commission challenged Danaher’s proposed acquisition of MDS Analytical Technologies, requiring that MDS divest its assets related to its laser microdissection business. The proposed settlement is designed to preserve competition in the North American market for laser microdissection devices – a key tool for scientific research.
FTC Order Preserves Competition in Market for Important Scientific Research Device, While Allowing Danaher to Proceed with Purchase of MDS Analytical Technologies
The Commission authorized a preliminary injunction to block Thoratec Corporation’s proposed $282 million acquisition of rival medical device maker HeartWare International, Inc., charging that the transaction would substantially reduce competition in the U.S. market for left ventricular devices (LVADs), a life-sustaining treatment for patients with advanced heart failure. The FTC’s administrative complaint alleges that Thoratec seeks to maintain its monopoly by acquiring HeartWare, thus eliminating the only significant threat to Thoratec’s continued dominance of the LVAD market. In August of 2009, the parties announced they would not to proceed with the proposed acquisition, and the Commission dismissed the Administrative Complaint without filing an motion for preliminary injunction in federal court.
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