FTC pauses challenge on Amgen $27.8B acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics

Aug. 28, 2023

In a surprising development, the Federal Trade Commission has temporarily suspended its efforts to block Amgen's planned $27.8 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics, signaling a potential shift in the regulatory landscape. 

The FTC's decision to halt its internal challenge, as disclosed in a court filing on Friday, paves the way for possible settlement discussions. This suspension of the lawsuit, which is effective until September 18, was viewed by analysts as the FTC's openness to discussing a resolution. The announcement led to a 5.7% surge in Horizon Therapeutics' stock on Monday.

This pause in the FTC's block comes just ahead of a scheduled courtroom showdown between the FTC and Amgen, set to take place on September 11. 

Back in May, 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.

The impact of this development is not limited to the Amgen-Horizon deal alone. Experts note that this move by the FTC could have ripple effects on other pending acquisitions under regulatory scrutiny, such as Pfizer's planned $43 billion acquisition of Seagen. 

As a result of the FTC's decision, Amgen issued a statement acknowledging the suspension of the administrative case, saying "Amgen remains prepared to demonstrate to the courts that there are no legal grounds to impede the acquisition, aiming to expand access to treatments for individuals with rare diseases."