FTC Announces Multilateral Working Group to Build a New Approach to Pharmaceutical Mergers

Agency joins forces with Canadian Competition Bureau, European Commission Directorate General for Competition, United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority, U.S. Department of Justice, and Offices of State Attorneys General

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Note: The FTC will host a conference call TODAY for media at 11:30 ET with Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. The call-in number is 844-291-6360 and the access code is 4928954. Call-in lines, which are for media only, will open 15 minutes prior to the start of the call.

The Federal Trade Commission and its counterpart competition enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad are launching a working group to update their approach to analyzing the effects of pharmaceutical mergers.

Initiated by the FTC, the working group will include the Canadian Competition Bureau, the European Commission Directorate General for Competition, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, and Offices of State Attorneys General.

This joint project taps expertise from competition authorities with whom the FTC cooperates frequently, as well as others with relevant experience, to ensure the most effective enforcement in these crucial markets. The goal of this initiative is to identify concrete and actionable steps to review and update the analysis of pharmaceutical mergers. This project will ensure that FTC investigations include fresh approaches that fully analyze and address the varied competitive concerns that these mergers and acquisitions raise.

“Given the high volume of pharmaceutical mergers in recent years, amid skyrocketing drug prices and ongoing concerns about anticompetitive conduct in the industry, it is imperative that we rethink our approach toward pharmaceutical merger review,” said FTC Acting Chair Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. “Working hand in hand with international and domestic enforcement partners, we intend to take an aggressive approach to tackling anticompetitive pharmaceutical mergers.”

Among the questions to be considered:

  • How can current theories of harm be expanded and refreshed?
  • What is the full range of a pharmaceutical merger’s effects on innovation?
  • In merger review, how should we consider pharmaceutical conduct such as price fixing, reverse payments, and other regulatory abuses?
  • What evidence would be needed to challenge a transaction based on any new or expanded theories of harm?
  • What types of remedies would work in the cases to which those theories are applied?
  • What have we learned about the scope of assets and characteristics of firms that make successful divestiture buyers?

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