Week in Review: FTC Gets Tougher on Mergers, AAIC Data Dump, and J&J’s Q2 Beat
Pictured: FTC sign above a doorway/iStock, Evgenia Parajanian
This week, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice followed through on their promise to police mergers more aggressively with the release of new draft guidelines seeking to toughen the Biden administration’s approach to anticompetitive practices. The proposed guidelines apply to a plethora of industries, including the biopharma sector, representing a shift in the agencies’ approach to examining mergers.
There’s no doubt that big pharma acquisitions will face enhanced scrutiny going forward, marking a significant departure from the FTC’s traditional approach. The industry got a preview with the FTC’s recent lawsuit seeking to block Amgen’s Horizon Therapeutics buyout. In that case, we learned this week that settlement talks between the FTC and Amgen have come to an end.
BioSpace also reported this week that the FTC has requested additional information on Pfizer’s $43 billion acquisition of Seagen, though the companies still expect to close the deal this year or in early 2024.
Among the deals and acquisitions announced this week: Pfizer inked a potential $7 billion partnership with startup creator Flagship Pioneering to leverage the latter’s ecosystem of biotech platforms and more than 40 human health companies, while Novartis will spend up to $1 billion for preclinical biotech DTx Pharma—which focuses on developing therapies targeting disorders affecting the nervous system—to expand its neuroscience pipeline.
On the neuro front this week, the industry saw a suite of results presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held in Amsterdam. Eli Lilly, for example, presented full results from the Phase III TRAILBLAZER-ALZ 2 study of donanemab, affirming positive results initially published in May. And Alnylam released data from a Phase I study of ALN-APP showing the therapy reduced levels of an Alzheimer’s-linked protein by around two-thirds.
In other news out of the Netherlands, argenx this week said it raised about $1.1 billion through the sale of more than 2 million shares in a global stock offering in the U.S. and Europe, following positive Phase II data for Vyvgart Hytrulo in adults with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.
Finally, the second-quarter earnings season has kicked off with Johnson & Johnson beating Wall Street expectations in its Q2 performance and increasing its 2023 full-year guidance. J&J this week also became the latest big pharma to file a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program, joining respective suits from Merck, BMS and Astellas.