Pharma deals get extra FTC scrutiny--but it hasn't stopped rising drug costs: Bloomberg


Pharma deals are already coming under the antitrust lens more often than tie-ups in other industries, according to a new analysis. And as long as drug prices keep rising, that’s not going to change.

The FTC reviewed drugmakers’ mergers at about three times the rate of other mergers, according to Bloomberg. Those reviews range from a second request for information--which signals an investigation of the deal--to an administrative complaint or, in some cases, a lawsuit.

Most of last year’s buys ultimately did receive the necessary clearance, with the agency allaying pricing concerns through targeted asset sales, the news service notes. Between last April and April of this year, the FTC mandated asset sales in 16 merger reviews--6 of which involved pharma company deals.

And yet, as vocal critics have been quick to point out, prices are still rising in the industry--meaning regulators may need better tools to analyze deals if they want to reverse the trend.

Pharma companies, though, aren’t likely to approve of any moves that could potentially hold up or curb their dealmaking--and investors aren’t either. Just ask Teva ($TEVA), which has seen its buy of Allergan’s ($AGN) generics unit delayed by antitrust regulators to the tune of sliding shares.

In the meantime, the U.S. government is attacking high drug prices on other fronts, too. After taking drugmakers including Valeant ($VRX) and Turing Pharmaceuticals to task over their hefty hike-ups, the Senate Special Committee on Aging earlier this week asked Pfizer ($PFE), Mylan ($MYL) and others to account for cost increases to antioverdose med naloxone.

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