FTC sues Amgen to block Horizon takeover

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to block Amgen from acquiring Horizon Therapeutics, claiming the mega-deal would allow Amgen to leverage its blockbuster portfolio to gain monopoly positions on Horizon medications.

The FTC filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the proposed $27.8 billion transaction, saying the deal would allow Amgen to use rebates on its existing blockbuster drugs to pressure insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers into favoring Horizon’s two key drugs — Tepezza and Krystexxa — neither of which have market competition.

A hint at what was coming came in February, when Horizon and Amgen revealed that they had received a request from the FTC for additional information and documentary materials concerning the proposed acquisition. 

The acquisition, announced in December 2022, will give Amgen access to Horizon’s lead thyroid eye disease drug, Tepezza, and Krystexxa, used to treat chronic refractory gout.

The proposed acquisition was the largest pharma transaction announced in 2022.

Concerned about the increased consolidation in the biopharma space, back in 2021 the FTC announced a new working group, comprised of antitrust enforcers from around the globe, focused on taking “an aggressive approach to tackling anticompetitive pharmaceutical mergers.” The initiative vowed to more closely evaluate pharma mergers in light of concerns about anticompetitive behavior and drug pricing.

Back in April, Sanofi had to withdraw and refile its pre-merger notification and report form in connection with its pending $2.9 billion acquisition of Provention Bio in order to provide the FTC with additional time for a closer review.

“Rampant consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry has given powerful companies a pass to exorbitantly hike prescription drug prices, deny patients access to more affordable generics, and hamstring innovation in life-saving markets,” said FTC Bureau of Competition director Holly Vedova in a press release about the Amgen lawsuit.  “Today’s action — the FTC’s first challenge to a pharmaceutical merger in recent memory — sends a clear signal to the market: The FTC won't hesitate to challenge mergers that enable pharmaceutical conglomerates to entrench their monopolies at the expense of consumers and fair competition.”

About the Author

Karen P. Langhauser | Chief Content Director, Pharma Manufacturing

Karen currently serves as Pharma Manufacturing's chief content director.

Now having dedicated her entire career to b2b journalism, Karen got her start writing for Food Manufacturing magazine. She made the decision to trade food for drugs in 2013, when she joined Putman Media as the digital content manager for Pharma Manufacturing, later taking the helm on the brand in 2016.

As an award-winning journalist with 20+ years experience writing in the manufacturing space, Karen passionately believes that b2b content does not have to suck. As the content director, her ongoing mission has been to keep Pharma Manufacturing's editorial look, tone and content fresh and accessible.

Karen graduated with honors from Bucknell University, where she majored in English and played Division 1 softball for the Bison. Happily living in NJ's famed Asbury Park, Karen is a retired Garden State Rollergirl, known to the roller derby community as the 'Predator-in-Chief.'