Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Pfizer-Allergan Deal Faces In-Depth Antitrust Probe by U.S.

  • Drug-makers received second request for information from FTC
  • Request lengthens antitrust investigation of mega-merger

U.S. antitrust officials have started an in-depth investigation into the merger of Pfizer Inc. and Allergan Plc to create a pharmaceutical giant.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a so-called second request to the companies for more information related to the review, they said in a statement Wednesday. The request, a move that was expected by the companies, lengthens the review of how the combination will affect competition.

"The companies continue to work cooperatively and expeditiously with the FTC in connection with its review," they said.

Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, and Allergan, which produces Botox, agreed to merge last year in a deal valued at $160 billion, the largest ever in the pharmaceutical world. EU competition officials are also investigating.

Regulators will look closely at drug overlaps in their portfolios, according to antitrust experts. One area of scrutiny could be so-called biosimilar drugs, which copy other medications, and would probably require divestitures of products in which the new company has a monopoly, or even an unfair advantage over its competitors, according to antitrust lawyers and health care analysts.

"Mergers of large pharma companies are complex because the FTC looks at overlaps molecule by molecule and also any pipeline overlaps," said Jennifer Rie, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence in New York.

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