FTC Takes A Rare Step Back, Pauses Legal Battle With Amgen Over $28B Horizon Deal

Zinger Key Points
  • FTC suspends challenge against Amgen's proposed Horizon acquisition.
  • Amgen commits to avoiding potential anti-competitive sales tactics.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided to momentarily halt its challenge against pharmaceutical giant Amgen, Inc AMGN, concerning its proposed acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics PLC HZNP valued at $27.8 billion.

The move presents a window of opportunity to contemplate a potential settlement, which might allow the deal to move forward under specific conditions, reports The Wall Street Journal.  

In a document submitted to the court last week, the FTC revealed its intention to suspend the challenge it had initiated internally.

Also Read: Here's How Much You Would Have Made Owning Amgen Stock In The Last 15 Years

The agency's legal representatives have voiced concerns, suggesting that Amgen might leverage its dominant position in the pharmaceutical landscape to solidify Horizon's leading treatments' monopolies, particularly those for thyroid eye disease and gout. 

This suspension, slated to last until Sept. 18, grants the FTC commissioners a window to deliberate on the case's future.

In its defense, Amgen has asserted that the acquisition would bolster the accessibility of Horizon's specialized medications. The company has further criticized the FTC's stance, dismissing it as overly speculative.

On Friday, Amgen clarified its commitment to abstain from any future sales strategies that might be perceived as unlawful by the FTC.

Specifically, the company assured that it would not bundle Horizon's treatments, Tepezza and Krystexxa, with its own product line, a move that the FTC cautioned could potentially grant them an undue advantage on insurance companies' approved drug rosters.

Amgen "would be pleased" if its commitment were "honored" instead of going to court, the company conveyed in a statement.

"That said, we are prepared to demonstrate to the courts that there is no legal or factual reason to prohibit this acquisition of Horizon and to finally bring medicines to more patients suffering from rare diseases," the statement continued.

Should the FTC opt for a settlement, it would mark a rare occasion of the agency stepping back from litigation. The FTC, under the leadership of chair Lina Khan, has been notably proactive in scrutinizing deals and subsequently initiating legal actions to prevent them.

However, the FTC has faced setbacks in court, notably its recent unsuccessful bid to prevent the deal between Microsoft MSFT and Activision Blizzard ATVI

and its challenge against Meta Platforms' META purchase of a virtual-reality firm.

The FTC's case against Amgen is part of a broader legal strategy often employed to counter mergers. The agency is scheduled to present its arguments regarding the injunction in a Chicago federal court next month. If both parties reach a consensus on a settlement, this hearing would become redundant.

Now Read: This Is What Whales Are Betting On Amgen

This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

Photo: Netherlands Embassy from Flickr.

Market News and Data brought to you by Benzinga APIs
Posted In: NewsTop StoriesamgenFTCHorizon Therapeutics
Benzinga simplifies the market for smarter investing

Trade confidently with insights and alerts from analyst ratings, free reports and breaking news that affects the stocks you care about.

Join Now: Free!