2022’s Biggest Biotech Showdown: Amgen-Horizon Deal Gets FTC’s Nod
In a thrilling twist, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has given the green light to the colossal $27.8 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics by Amgen, marking it as the biotech deal of the year.
This high-stakes saga kicked off in May 2023 when the FTC aimed to thwart the deal, claiming it could create a pharmaceutical behemoth with the power to manipulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Their concern? That Amgen might leverage rebates on its own drugs, like Enbrel for autoimmune diseases, to push Horizon’s Tepezza and Krystexxa, used to treat thyroid eye disease (TED) and chronic refractory gout (CRG), effectively stifling competition.
The plot thickened last week when the FTC temporarily halted its lawsuit, hinting at a potential settlement. And now, the dust has settled with an agreement in place, also dismissing legal actions from several states.
Under this deal, Amgen pledges not to bundle its products with Tepezza or Krystexxa, nor can it use rebates or contracts to favor one over the other. In a move to ensure competition remains unscathed, Amgen won’t acquire any products or interests in businesses related to TED or CRG without FTC approval.
This thrilling development means the finish line is in sight for Amgen and Horizon. They’re now racing to secure the final approvals required under Irish law, aiming to close the deal in the early fourth quarter of 2023.
But that’s not all; this showdown has broader implications. It’s a clear signal that the FTC, under the Biden administration, is scrutinizing industry rebate practices closely. Biotech expert Andrew Pannu observes that the industry’s major players, such as Optum, CVS Caremark, and Express Scripts, are under the microscope, as their role in transparency and drug prices takes center stage in this gripping drama.