Pharmaceutical giant AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) has won U.S. antitrust approval for its purchase of Allergan (NYSE:AGN) for $63 billion in cash and stock. The purchase is seen as a hedge against the impending expiration of U.S. patents on AbbVie’s blockbuster drug, Humira.
North Chicago-based AbbVie announced the deal in June 2019, but ran up against U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust concerns. Under a consent agreement with the FTC, the companies agreed to sell brazikumab, an investigational IL-23 inhibitor under development to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, to AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), which developed it and licensed it to Dublin, Ireland-based Allergan in 2016.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) sells Stelara, the only FDA-approved IL-23 inhibitor treatment for both conditions. Only three other companies — AbbVie, Allergan, and Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) — have IL-23 inhibitors in late-stage development.
As part of the consent agreement, AbbVie and Allergan also agreed to divest Zenpep, an exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) treatment used by cystic fibrosis patients, to Nestle Health. Nestle also will acquire Viokace, another pancreatic enzyme treatment in the deal. AbbVie and Allergan together control 95% of the market for drugs to treat EPI, according to the FTC.
The commission voted 3 to 2 to accept the proposed consent order. The companies must await approval from the Irish High Court to close the deal. The court was scheduled to hear the matter today.