Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is expressing her concerns about the high-priced acquisitions of Horizon Pharmaceuticals and Opiant Pharmaceuticals by Amgen and Indivior, respectively, in a letter sent to FTC commissioners on Wednesday. Despite Warren’s intervention, the market appears to remain indifferent.
Senator Elizabeth Warren raised alarm bells over the proposed acquisitions of two major companies, citing their “records of anti-competitive business practices.” She warned that these acquisitions could have a detrimental effect on competition, innovation, and cost for American families.
In response, Jessica Akopyan, head of global media relations at Amgen, strongly refuted Warren’s statement, asserting that the company’s leadership does not agree with her characterization.
In a move that promises to expand access to life-changing medicines, Amgen and Horizon have joined forces in a cooperative effort with the Federal Trade Commission. According to Amgen’s spokesperson, Levon Akopyan, the transaction is free from any anti-competitive aspects. With Amgen’s well-developed commercial, medical, and manufacturing capabilities, Horizon’s medicines will now be able to reach countless more seriously ill patients.
The market reacted similarly to Horizon and Opiant’s decline, as both were down only slightly by the market open on Friday, with Horizon at 1.6%, and Opiant at 2%.
Warren has sounded the alarm on the increasing trend of consolidation among pharmaceutical companies. In her letter, she highlighted the fact that in just 20 years between 1995 and 2015, the 60 most powerful pharmaceutical companies had combined into a mere 10. This consolidation presents a dangerous threat to competition and innovation in the industry.
Warren argued that, although the Inflation Reduction Act contained provisions to control drug prices, additional measures could be taken, such as “robust FTC enforcement of antitrust law,” to further reduce drug prices.
A Rocky History
In November, Indivior made the controversial move to acquire opioid overdose therapy maker Opiant for $145 million, sparking concern among those with knowledge of the company’s legal troubles.
When Indivior and its former parent company discovered the patent on their opioid addiction treatment Suboxone was set to expire, they resorted to an illegal tactic to maintain their monopoly over the drug: marketing a dissolvable film version of the drug as safer when it was not. This deceptive business practice has allowed the companies to continue to reap profits from the medication, despite its patent expiration.
Indivior was hit with a hefty penalty of $2 billion by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and a further $60 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) due to multiple cases brought against them. The staggering fines demonstrate the severity of the charges brought against the company.
In a statement released Thursday regarding the acquisition, Indivior’s Chief Global Impact Officer Nina DeLorenzo highlighted the positive effect of the treatment, without directly referencing claims made by Warren. She emphasized the potential for the treatment to have a positive impact on those in need.
Opiant’s nalmefene rescue therapy medication is set to revolutionize the way we approach opioid overdose, offering an additional option that has yet to be approved by the FDA. By joining forces, our companies can work together to combat this serious issue and make a lasting impact.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has accused pharmaceutical giants Amgen and Horizon of “brazen” price hikes on drugs that lack competition, citing Amgen’s Enbrel drug as the most “egregious” example. Warren has called for greater regulation to protect consumers from the pharmaceutical industry’s profiteering.
Warren singled out Amgen and Indivior, citing Merck’s recent buyout of Imago BioSciences as proof of how big pharma companies are prioritizing acquisitions over innovation. This acquisition, along with many others, has had a detrimental effect on patients and their ability to access vital treatments.
An Ongoing Battle
Backing up her claims, Warren cited other recent acquisitions she viewed as damaging, such as those of Amgen and Indivior. She argued that these deals put profits first, leaving consumers and workers to face the consequences.
Backing her claims, Warren cited other recently-made acquisitions that she deemed detrimental, such as those of Amgen and Indivior. She accused the corporations of prioritizing their profits over the concerns of consumers and workers, and lamented the repercussions of these deals.
In 2019, AbbVie made a bold move by purchasing Allergan for a whopping $63 billion. This was done as a strategy to protect Humira, which was set to lose its patent protection in 2023, and maintain its monopoly on the drug. Unfortunately, this decision has had a major impact on the U.S. population, increasing costs by an estimated 1.4 billion dollars between 2019 and 2020.
Wednesday saw Senator Elizabeth Warren join forces with 24 other senators in sending a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging him to take action to reduce the cost of Xtandi, a prostate cancer treatment. This marks her sixth letter in two years pushing for the establishment of march-in rights for Xtandi, demonstrating Warren’s unwavering commitment to making healthcare more affordable and accessible.
In March, Senator Elizabeth Warren launched a bold new initiative to tackle the issue of anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions. The “Prohibiting Anticompetitive Mergers Act” seeks to block deals worth more than $5B or those that could lead to high market shares, providing a much-needed counterbalance to the biopharma industry and other large mergers.