The Federal Trade Commission said it would pause its in-house proceedings to block Amgen Inc.’s $27.8 billion takeover of Horizon Therapeutics Plc, opening the door to settlement talks that could resolve the agency’s challenge to the deal.
(Bloomberg) — The Federal Trade Commission said it would pause its in-house proceedings to block Amgen Inc.’s $27.8 billion takeover of Horizon Therapeutics Plc, opening the door to settlement talks that could resolve the agency’s challenge to the deal.
The agency issued an order late Friday pausing the in-house case until Sept. 18. The suspension will allow Amgen and Horizon to propose a settlement to the FTC’s three commissioners that would negate the need for further litigation.
In a statement, Amgen said it has no intention to bundle Horizon’s drugs with its own.
“We would be pleased if our commitment were honored instead of going through a lengthy court process,” the company said. A Sept. 13 federal court hearing remains scheduled on the FTC’s request to pause the transaction ahead of the in-house trial.
The FTC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent after business hours.
The FTC under Chair Lina Khan has taken an aggressive approach to mergers, challenging a number of high-profile deals. But the agency has struggled in court, losing merger cases this year to block a Meta Platforms Inc. acquisition and Microsoft Corp.’s Activision Blizzard Inc. deal.
The FTC sued over Amgen’s proposed acquisition in May, the first challenge to a pharmaceutical deal in more than a decade. The agency argued the merger would allow Amgen to entrench Horizon’s monopoly on medications for thyroid eye disease and chronic refractory gout.
Amgen has 27 approved drugs, including blockbuster treatments like Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis and Otezla for psoriasis. Horizon distributes 11 drug products in the US, including Tepezza, used to treat thyroid eye disease, and Krystexxa, for chronic refractory gout, which do not face competition, the FTC said. In 2022, Tepezza brought in $1.97 billion in revenue and Krystexxa $716 million in revenue for Horizon, according to company filings.
A Chicago federal court is set to begin a two-week hearing next month on the FTC’s request to pause the deal while an in-house trial on the merger plays out. US District Judge John Kness said he could issue a decision on whether to enjoin the merger by the end of October.
The Amgen case is the second in which the FTC has begun settlement talks since its Microsoft loss in July. The FTC is negotiating a settlement with Intercontinental Exchange Inc. over its proposed buy of mortgage software company Black Knight Inc., after canceling a trial planned for August.
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