Amgen, AbbVie, Gilead, Merck and more form coalition to push back on FTC's M&A reforms

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently came up short in its attempt to derail Amgen’s $27.8 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics. But there is still considerable concern in the biopharma industry about increased government scrutiny of M&A activity.

How can the industry fight back?

On Wednesday, more than 30 companies and biopharma associations introduced the Partnership for the US Life Science Ecosystem (PULSE) to increase awareness of the value of M&A.

After successfully defending itself against the FTC lawsuit, Amgen is among the drugmakers that have signed on. AbbVie, Gilead, Merck and Novartis also are in the fold.  

As the industry has battled drug price provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), it has employed a continual buzzword—innovation. PULSE is taking the same route in boosting the value of biopharma M&A.

“Pro-innovation M&A offers an indispensable bridge that helps shepherd early discoveries into the lifesaving treatments and cures needed for patients," PULSE said in its release.

The coalition includes 25 state organizations—such as BioCom California and MassBio—which promote the industry.

The increased FTC scrutiny of biopharma M&A comes under the direction of President Joe Biden, who has crowed over his success with the passage of the IRA and its potential to rein in drug prices.

In June, the FTC proposed sweeping changes to filings for all mergers, regardless of industry. The agency said current requirements leave regulators unable to “conduct an effective and efficient initial evaluation of a transaction’s likely competitive impact.”

The FTC’s May 2023 lawsuit, directed at Amgen, was the first by the regulator against a biopharma industry merger since 2009. In taking its action, the FTC said its goal was to limit the monopoly power of Amgen. The sides settled in September, allowing the deal to proceed.