Congress Asks FTC to More Closely Examine Pharma Mega Mergers
US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, and eight other senators, have sent a letter to US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons calling on the FTC to closely examine pharmaceutical mergers that raise competition issues and that may impact innovation and drug pricing. The letter pointed to increased consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry, including AbbVie’s pending $63-billion acquisition of Allergan and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s pending $74-billion acquisition of Celgene and potential concerns on the impact of such mega mergers.
“This industry consolidation is occurring against a backdrop of ever rising prescription drug spending and reports that one in four people taking prescription drugs have difficulty affording their medication,” said the senators in their September 17, 2019 letter. “It is more important than ever that the FTC take appropriate action to protect consumers from acquisitions that may threaten competition in drug markets, raise drug prices, or reduce patient access to essential medications.” Senator Klobuchar was joined on the letter by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WA), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
In the letter, Senator Klobuchar and others raised concerns about the potential impact of these proposed transactions on pharmaceutical innovation and the potential harm to consumers that may come from the increased negotiating leverage of merging companies. The senators also urged the FTC to take necessary steps to ensure that the terms of any consent decrees under which pharmaceutical mergers are allowed to proceed are effective in addressing impacts on competition.