FTC aims to grow pharma-deal unit

The pace of biopharma dealmaking has increased so much that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is asking for more funding to help handle the workload. As Pharmalot reports, the agency is asking for a 22 percent budget increase to $314 million, with nine new employees tasked with the "increased workload" of increasingly complex mergers. Four of those would oversee just pharma and technology deals.

"Preventing anticompetitive pharmaceutical mergers will continue to be an important priority for the FTC and a vital way to protect consumers from rising drug prices," the agency wrote in its budget summary.

Drugmakers have been engaging in deals--both mammoth and minuscule--over the past couple of years as they take different tacks toward the same goal: Surviving the coming "patent cliff" that will open so many blockbuster drugs to generic competition.

Enormous deals--such as Pfizer's acquisition of Wyeth, say, or Merck and Schering-Plough's merger--require lots of time and energy to comb through. And then there's sheer volume of smaller deals, such as Sanofi-Aventis' recent agreement to buy consumer healthcare company Chattem. Pharma is certainly helping the FTC types earn their keep.

- read the Pharmalot post