UK regulator reviews AstraZeneca’s Alexion acquisition

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Astrazeneca

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is inviting comments on AstraZeneca’s $39bn acquisition of Alexion.

Announced in December, the acquisition of Boston-based Biotech Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., will support AstraZeneca’s ambitions to develop novel medicines in immunology. It is set to be AstraZeneca’s largest ever acquisition.

Today the CMA announced the launch of a merger inquiry, which is open for comments​ until June 3, 2021. The CMA will decide on July 21 whether to refer the merger for a Phase 2 investigation.

"The CMA is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 and, if so, whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the UK for goods or services,"​ says the authority.

AstraZeneca received US clearance for the acquisition in April: and has also received competition clearances in Canada, Brazil, Russia, Japan and other countries globally. A decision is still pending from the EU. 

AstraZeneca anticipates the acquisition will close in Q3, 2021. It will create a dedicated business unit, known as ‘Alexion, The AstraZeneca Rare Disease Unit’, headquartered in Boston, US.


Founded in 1992, Alexion has pioneered complement inhibition for a broad spectrum of immune-mediated rare diseases caused by uncontrolled activation of the complement system, a vital part of the immune system.

Alexion's franchise includes Soliris ​​(eculizumab), an anti-complement component 5 (C5) monoclonal antibody. The medicine is approved in many countries for the treatment of patients with paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH), atypical haemolytic uremic syndrome, generalized myasthenia gravis and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.

More recently, Alexion launched Ultomiris ​​(ravulizumab), a second-generation C5 monoclonal antibody with a more convenient dosing regimen.

Alexion's work in immunology extends to other targets in the complement cascade beyond C5 as well as additional modalities, with its deep pipeline including Factor D small-molecule inhibitors of the alternative pathway of the complement system, an antibody blocking neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn)-mediated recycling, and a bi-specific mini-body targeting C5, among others. The FcRn extends the half-life and hence the availability of pathogenic immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies.

The company serves patients in more than 50 countries and in 2019 generated a total revenue of $5bn and profit before tax of $2.2bn.

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