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Watson, Actavis Agree to Sell Drug Rights in FTC Accord

Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., maker of the generic version of Lipitor cholesterol pills, agreed to sell rights to 18 drugs to win approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for its purchase of Actavis Inc.

Watson and Actavis will sell the rights to Sandoz International GmbH and Par Pharmaceuticals Inc. and give up manufacturing and marketing rights to three other medicines to resolve competition concerns, the FTC said in a statement today.

“The settlement protects competition in the markets for 21 current and future generic drugs used to treat a wide range of conditions” that include hypertension, diabetes and anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the FTC said in the statement.

Watson, based in Parsippany, New Jersey, said on April 25 that it was buying closely held Actavis for 4.25 billion euros ($5.5 billion) to create the third-largest global generic-drug maker. Revenue for 2012 was anticipated at $8 billion, the company said.

According to the FTC’s administrative complaint, the acquisition would have hurt competition in 21 generic-drug markets including the generic version of Zyban, which is designed to help people quit smoking, and the generic version of Cardizem CD, which treats heart disorders including hypertension and angina.

The FTC also said the merger would have reduced competition in the future for six generic drugs that are in development by both Watson and Actavis, including an acne treatment and an extended-release patch used to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

FTC commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of the complaint and proposed settlement order, the agency said.

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