‘Disappointed’ IQVIA hit by judge’s decision to uphold FTC’s block of its DeepIntent buyout

A U.S. judge has upheld the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) decision to block IQVIA’s long-running attempt to buy the owner of pharma digital ad specialist DeepIntent.

The long-running saga centers on IQVIA, the leading biopharma data provider, and its attempt to snap up Propel Media for its DeepIntent business.

IQVIA tried to buy Propel back in 2022 (financial details remain unknown), but the FTC last year put a block on the deal, arguing that it would inevitably give IQVIA a market-leading position in advertising for healthcare products, namely prescription drugs, to doctors and other healthcare professionals.

According to the official complaint filed by the FTC in 2023, the merger would result in a “heightened motivation” for IQVIA to withhold critical information, hindering competition among rival companies and potential new entrants. Additionally, the complaint asserts that the merger would lead to decreased market competitiveness.

The company is one of the world’s largest holders of pharmaceutical sales, prescription and patient record data, something that could, given its reach, allow it to monopolize the pharma advertising market.

IQVIA was hoping for the block to be lifted, but it enters 2024 with the barriers firmly down after District Judge Edgar Ramos ruled (PDF) that the “FTC has satisfied its burden of demonstrating that a preliminary injunction of the proposed acquisition is in the public interest.”

That was because the Commission “has shown that there is a reasonable probability that the proposed acquisition will substantially impair competition in the relevant market.”

IQVIA said it will fight on. “IQVIA is disappointed by the Court’s decision to grant the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction,” a company spokesperson told Fierce Pharma Marketing in a statement.

“We are reviewing the decision and evaluating our options. We maintain that the FTC’s arguments in this case are inconsistent with the reality of the marketplace and unsupported by the law.”