Drug News

Amgen and FTC Reach Accord, Paving the Path for $28 Billion Horizon Deal

Amgen’s $28 billion acquisition of Horizon Pharma has overcome a significant obstacle with the resolution of its dispute with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This development has averted the need for a trial that was set to commence later this month, marking a pivotal step toward the completion of the merger.

Under the terms of the settlement between Amgen and the FTC, specific conditions have been imposed to address concerns related to competition and market dynamics. Notably, Amgen is now barred from bundling any of its pharmaceutical products with Horizon’s two existing marketed products: Tepezza, designed for thyroid eye disease (TED), and Krystexxa, used in the treatment of chronic refractory gout. This prohibition applies when Amgen negotiates formulary access agreements with insurers and pharmacies.

The FTC, along with several state attorneys general, had initiated legal action in May, aiming to prevent the acquisition. They argued that Amgen’s ownership of Tepezza and Krystexxa would potentially hinder competition and impede access to newer treatments from rival companies in the future. Both of Horizon’s drugs were noted as being the only FDA-approved therapies for their respective medical conditions.

A notable development that indicated a possible resolution to the dispute was the FTC’s decision to temporarily halt its legal challenge. This pause allowed commissioners to explore alternative ways to resolve the case. In addition to the bundling restriction, Amgen has agreed to seek prior approval from the FTC before acquiring any other products intended for the same medical indications.

The resolution of this disagreement has implications not only for Amgen and Horizon but also for the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. Concerns have been growing within the sector about increased antitrust scrutiny affecting merger and acquisition deals. The FTC’s stance on this matter, as expressed by Henry Liu, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, emphasizes the importance of maintaining competition in the pharmaceutical market to prevent skyrocketing medication prices and ensure patient access to essential treatments.

Amgen, on its part, has maintained its position that it had no intention to bundle Tepezza or Krystexxa with its own products. The company stated that the narrow assurance provided in the consent order with the FTC would not impact its business operations. Amgen had initially announced its intention to acquire Horizon, a Dublin-based pharmaceutical company, in December 2022, after negotiations with Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson had fallen through. The two companies have expressed their anticipation of finalizing the acquisition in the early fourth quarter of 2023, with a shared commitment to serving patients worldwide who suffer from rare diseases.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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