Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that global pharmaceutical company Novartis AG’s consumer health care products joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline would likely be anticompetitive.
Under the order, first announced in November 2014, Novartis agreed to divest Habitrol, its branded nicotine replacement therapy patch, as well as its private-label patch business. According to the complaint, Novartis and GSK are the only companies that market branded nicotine patches in the United States, and two of only three companies that supply private label patches to retailers. Without the divestiture, Novartis’s ownership of both Habitrol and a substantial interest in the joint venture that sells GSK’s nicotine patches would have substantially reduced competition and led to higher prices for Habitrol and Novartis’s private-label patches.
The Commission vote approving the final order was 5-0. (FTC File No. 141 0141; the staff contact is Mark Silvia, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-3291)
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