FTC and Amgen settle lawsuit over Horizon acquisition

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reached a deal with biopharmaceutical giant Amgen Inc. to drop its lawsuit that sought to block Amgen’s $28 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics plc. The FTC had filed the lawsuit in May 2023, alleging that the deal would harm competition and consumers in the markets for drugs that treat thyroid eye disease and chronic refractory gout.

FTC’s concerns over the deal

The FTC claimed that Amgen, which has a large portfolio of blockbuster drugs, would use rebates and other tactics to pressure insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to favor Horizon’s monopoly drugs, Tepezza and Krystexxa, over potential competitors. Tepezza is the only approved drug for thyroid eye disease, a rare condition that causes eye bulging, double vision, and pain. Krystexxa is the only approved drug for chronic refractory gout, a painful form of arthritis that affects patients who do not respond to conventional treatments.

The FTC argued that Amgen’s acquisition of Horizon would enable Amgen to leverage its market power and entrench the monopoly positions of Tepezza and Krystexxa, thereby raising prices and reducing access for patients. The FTC also said that the deal would discourage innovation and entry by other drugmakers who are developing or planning to develop alternative treatments for these conditions.

FTC’s settlement with Amgen

According to the FTC, the settlement with Amgen will prevent the potential competitive harm from the deal by imposing several restrictions on Amgen’s conduct. Under the proposed consent order, Amgen is prohibited from:

FTC and Amgen settle lawsuit

  • Using its existing drugs to secure preferential terms from insurers or PBMs for Tepezza or Krystexxa
  • Engaging in bundling, exclusive dealing, or other practices that would disadvantage or deter competitors to Tepezza or Krystexxa
  • Acquiring certain products that could compete with Tepezza or Krystexxa without prior approval from the FTC

The FTC said that the settlement will preserve competition and protect consumers in the relevant markets. The consent order will be subject to public comment for 30 days before becoming final.

Amgen’s response to the settlement

Amgen issued a statement welcoming the FTC’s decision to drop the lawsuit and approve the acquisition of Horizon. Amgen said that the deal will enhance its ability to serve patients with serious diseases and unmet medical needs. Amgen also said that it is committed to complying with the terms of the consent order and cooperating with the FTC.

Amgen expects to complete the acquisition of Horizon by the end of September 2023. The deal has already received approval from Horizon’s shareholders and regulators in other jurisdictions.

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