Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that Boston Scientific’s proposed $4.2 billion acquisition of medical equipment and pharmaceutical supplier BTG plc would violate federal antitrust law.
According to the complaint, which was first announced in August 2019, as proposed, Boston Scientific’s acquisition of BTG would have harmed consumers in the U.S. market for drug eluting beads, or DEBs, which are microscopic beads used to treat certain liver cancers. Interventional radiologists use DEBs, combined with chemotherapy drugs, in a procedure called transarterial chemoembolization. This procedure blocks the flow of blood to a liver tumor, causing it to shrink over time, while simultaneously slowly releasing a chemotherapy agent that also attacks the tumor.
Eliminating the head-to-head competition between Boston Scientific and BTG in the highly concentrated U.S. DEBs market would have allowed the combined firm to exercise market power unilaterally, resulting in higher prices, reduced innovation, and less choice for consumers, according to the complaint.
Under the final order, Boston Scientific is required to divest to Varian Medical Systems its DEB business, as well as its bland bead product line. Bland beads are used in another type of procedure to block the flow of blood to a liver tumor. According to the FTC, Boston Scientific’s bland bead business must be divested with its DEB business to ensure the divestiture’s effectiveness.
Commission staff cooperated with staff from Spain’s National Commission on Markets and Competition (CNMC) to analyze the proposed transaction and potential remedies. The CNMC closed its investigation and cleared the transaction, subject to Boston Scientific fulfilling the terms contained in the FTC’s consent order.
The Commission vote approving the final order was 5-0. The staff contact is Jonathan Ripa, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2230.
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