$17bn Pfizer-Hospira merger approved on anti-trust conditions

By Fiona BARRY

- Last updated on GMT

The EC has approved the merger, on condition of several divestments
The EC has approved the merger, on condition of several divestments

Related tags European union Pfizer

The European Commission has approved Pfizer’s acquisition of Hospira, providing the larger company first divests of its infliximab candidate and several sterile injectables.

The Commission said rival pharma companies would not provide enough competition against the merged company, risking Pfizer increasing its prices or discontinuing development of its infliximab biosimilar.

Margrethe Vestager, head of competition policy at the EC, said: "This is not just about keeping prices low for patients and healthcare services. We have also made sure that the merger of Pfizer/Hospira does not stand in the way of the research and development of medication that could have huge benefits for society​".

Infliximab

J&J manufactures the original infliximab biologic, Remicade. Hospira launched its biosimilar, Inflectra (developed by Celltrion) in February this year.​ Pfizer’s rival biosimilar is still in development, as is an infliximab biosimilar from Samsung Bioepsis.

The European Commission said a Hospira-Pfizer merger could delay or discontinue development of Pfizer’s biosimilar in order to focus on Hospira's Inflectra, leading to an uncompetitive market.

Alternatively, Pfizer might hand back Hospira's product to its developer Celltrion, leading to the loss of current price competition between Hospira and Celltrion. Either outcome “would be detrimental to competition,​” the EC concluded. Pfizer will be allowed to retain rights to its biosimilar candidate outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Sterile injectables

Pfizer was also ordered to divest of some of its chemotherapy sterile injectables if it wants to go ahead with the deal. The investigation was concerned the drugs could create anti-competition problems in some EU countries.

Because of their high combined market shares in some member states, the companies will be required to sell their marketing rights for carboplatin in Belgium; cytarabine in Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Sweden; epirubicin in Austria, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain; irinotecan in Belgium, the Czech Republic and Italy;vancomycin in Ireland and voriconazole in all of the EEA.

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