AbbVie nears Allergan lockup with EU antitrust approval—and only one selloff required

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AbbVie and Allergan will be forced to divest brazikumab as part of the EU's conditional approval of their merger. (AbbVie)

AbbVie and Allergan have waited expectantly to seal the deal on their $63 billion merger as international watchdogs took a close look at the combo. Now, they're almost home free. The EU says it's prepared to give a green light to the deal—and a positive view from U.S. regulators could soon follow.

The European Commission approved AbbVie's merger with Allergan on the condition the companies sell off Allergan's late-stage IL-23 inhibitor brazikumab. That stipulation is far from a deal-breaker; Allergan already offered to offload the med, which the EU said conflicted with AbbVie's IL-23 candidate risankizumab, along with cystic fibrosis med Zenpep. 

In forcing Allergan to give up brazikumab, the EU aims to avoid antitrust concerns in the irritable bowel disease market. 

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"Our decision makes sure that the merger between AbbVie and Allergan will not disrupt the development of a promising innovative treatment for these diseases, said Margrethe Vestager, executive VP of EU Merger Regulation.

Although a final decision from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has yet to come, the EU approval gives the first go-ahead to a megamerger expected to create the fourth-largest drugmaker in the world. In September, the FTC sent a "second request" for information on the deal to both drugmakers, giving hope to a coalition of unions and consumer groups that had asked the agency to “carefully examine” the deal and block it outright if necessary. 

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