The biopharma industry is pushing back against increased scrutiny of mergers and acquisitions from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). More than 30 biopharma companies and industry associations announced the formation of the Partnership for the U.S. Life Science Ecosystem (PULSE) to advocate for the role of M&A activity in the biopharma sector. A M&A landscape timeline below highlights some of the events leading up to the emergence of PULSE.
The creation of PULSE comes in response to more aggressive enforcement against pharma mergers by the FTC under the Biden administration. Most recently, the FTC sued to block Amgen’s acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics, before ultimately settling to allow the deal to proceed with conditions.
Since June 2023, there has been a trend of falling M&A deal volume. Deal size has also dipped in recent months, but rising interest rates are another factor influencing that trend.
PULSE members, including Amgen, AbbVie, Gilead, and Merck, argue that M&A helps advance drug discovery and development.
M&A landscape timeline
- March 2021: In light of an uptick in large deals in 2019 and a upwelling of M&A deals in 2021, the FTC under Biden signaled that it would re-evaluate its approach to pharma dealmaking to reflect a ‘tougher’ M&A environment.
- January 18, 2022: FTC and DOJ announce plans to modernize federal merger guidelines.
- Early 2023: Revival of biopharma M&A after a cooling period during the pandemic. This revival occurred despite rising capital costs and heightened scrutiny from FTC. Aggregate deal values jumped 133% relative to the first half of 2022, hitting $82 billion, according to IQVIA.
- May 16, 2023: FTC sues to block Amgen’s acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics.
- July 19, 2023: Federal antitrust agencies propose updates to U.S. merger guidelines.
- August 10, 2023: FTC and DOJ extend the deadline for public comments on proposed changes to the premerger notification form.
- September 1, 2023: Amgen agrees to settle FTC and state challenges to its Horizon Therapeutics acquisition.
- October 4, 2023: Launch of Partnership for the U.S. Life Science Ecosystem (PULSE).
Filed Under: Drug Discovery, Legal precedents and interpretations