The FTC Takes a Closer Look at Consolidation
The Federal Trade Commission's objections to the Abbott/Alza merger sank the deal--despite the companies' attempt to satisfy the FTC with a divestiture of the product at issue, Viadur. The implications: an increasingly aggressive FTC, with a much stricter sense of what constitutes anti-competitiveness, may require much different remedies from merging companies. But they're not saying what.
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When the FTC forced Pfizer/Pharmacia to divest Nastech's nasal apomorphine--a potential competitor of Pfizer's Viagra--Nastech managed what may be a unique solution: it got the product back, with additional financing-and in so doing, solved the very different problems of Pharmacia, Pfizer, the FTC, and itself.
J&J is paying a lot to buy Alza, nearly twice what Abbott had been willing to pay two years before. It's convinced that Alza's current drugs--mid-sized products today--can be blockbusters. Its gamble: that it can make Alza's modest sized drugs into blockbusters; and--for the first time in the drug industry--to make a captive drug delivery capability into a productive R&D engine.
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