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US FTC forces Watson and Actavis to sell to rivals Sandoz and Par

By Gareth Macdonald , 22-Oct-2012
Last updated on 22-Oct-2012 at 14:10 GMT

Watson and acquisition target Actavis must sell 18 drugs to rivals Sandoz and Par Pharma under conditions imposed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The condition – which will also see the firm’s relinquish manufacturing and marketing rights to three other products – is designed to see that Watson’s proposed $5.9bn (€4.5bn) takeover meets with competition rules.

According to the FTC “Watson’s acquisition of Actavis as originally proposed would reduce competition in 21 generic drug product markets, violating federal antitrust laws.  These generic markets are or are expected to be concentrated, and Watson and Actavis are currently one or expected to be one of only a few competitors.”

A list of all 21 drugs – which include versions of GlaxoSmithKline’s Zyban, Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ fentanyl patch and Valeant Pharmaceutical’s Ativan, along with the structure of the relevant markets, can be found in the analysis to aid public comment  for this matter on the FTC’s website.

Watson and Actavis also supply some drugs the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified as being in short supply, although the FTC does not believe the deal is likely to make the situation worse.

Information gathered during the investigation indicated that the manufacture of those products would not likely be altered in a way that could impact their continued availability, and that the transaction would not impact or otherwise affect incentives to continue to supply those products.”

The FTC decision comes just days after Watson Pharma got the OK from the European Commission (EC). The Commission said the combined firm would continue to face competition, despite its impact on the generic pharmaceutical market.

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