Federal competition bureau and counterpart agencies work together to study pharmaceutical mergers

Working group will tackle issues like theories of harm, effects on innovation, potential remedies

Federal competition bureau and counterpart agencies work together to study pharmaceutical mergers
Competition Bureau Canada has joined a working group to look at the impact of pharmaceutical mergers

Competition Bureau Canada has joined a multilateral working group for the identification of concrete and actionable steps for updating the analysis of the impacts of pharmaceutical mergers, which are often subjected to review in numerous jurisdictions.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission commenced the joint project, which also includes the European Commission Directorate General for Competition, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, the U.S. Department of Justice and certain Offices of State Attorneys General.

The international working group will study various competition-related concerns connected to mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry, such as potentially refreshing and expanding the prevailing theories of harm, analyzing how mergers have affected innovation and considering remedies for resolving emerging issues.

The working group will also tackle questions such as what evidence would be required to challenge transactions based on current or new theories of harm, what lessons can be learned regarding the scope of assets and characteristics of firms which make successful divestiture buyers and how to consider pharmaceutical conduct like price fixing, reverse payments and other regulatory abuses during merger review.

“The pharmaceutical industry is a vital part of Canada’s health sector, and we will continue to collaborate closely with our international partners to ensure we are staying on top of emerging issues – with respect to mergers as well as any type of potentially anticompetitive conduct,” said Matthew Boswell, Canada’s competition commissioner, in the news release.

The Competition Bureau stressed that the advancement of competition and innovation in the health sector is one of its strategic priorities and that the joint project would help in strengthening its ties with its counterpart agencies in the U.S., the U.K and the European Union.

“Given the high volume of pharmaceutical mergers in recent years, amid skyrocketing drug prices and ongoing concerns about anticompetitive conduct in the industry, it is imperative that we rethink our approach toward pharmaceutical merger review,” said Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, acting chairperson of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, in the U.S. agency’s news release.

“This initiative, with its focus on a particular industry, appears to be unique and serves a reminder that issues involving pharmaceuticals are at the forefront of many enforcers’ agendas,” said an article discussing the federal government’s announcement on the website of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

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