AbbVie-Allergan deal foes try again to spur an FTC crackdown

FTC building
The FTC is currently reviewing AbbVie and Allergan's proposed $63 billion merger. (FTC)

AbbVie and Allergan's megamerger is likely in the final stages of review after the pair agreed to offload three drugs, including IL-23 hopeful brazikumab. But a cadre of union and consumer groups say that's not enough—and they're taking another stab at turning regulators against the combo.

Despite AbbVie's assurances that divesting brazikumab would help level the competitive playing field after its $63 billion megamerger with Allergan, the proposed sale would not accomplish that goal, the groups told the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in a letter (PDF) Tuesday. 

Their rationale? Brazikumab's buyer––AstraZeneca––is ill-positioned to bring the drug to market and does not have a strong enough pipeline to actively compete with AbbVie's strong position in immunology. Moreover, AbbVie's controversial use of "rebate walls" for its products, including for psoriasis med Skyrizi, would likely put any possible competitor, brazikumab included, in a tough position to compete against the more established med. 

In late January, AstraZeneca opted to pick up brazikumab from Allergan as part of a three-drug sell-off to help clear up antitrust concerns raised during the FTC's review of the $63 billion merger. 

RELATED: AbbVie, Allergan sell 3 drugs to win U.S. antitrust clearance—and send AZ, Nestlé into new realms

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