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Amgen completes $28B Horizon buyout that was challenged by FTC

Amgen on Friday closed its $27.8 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics, about one month after securing clearance from U.S. antitrust regulators who had challenged the deal.

With the acquisition’s completion, Amgen gains access to 12 drugs that had combined sales of $1.8 billion over the first six months of 2023. The company said it will update its sales guidance for the rest of the year when it reports third quarter earnings.

The deal is the largest in the Amgen’s history, surpassing in dollar terms the 2001 buyout of Immunex. That acquisition gave Amgen Enbrel, a long-lasting blockbuster that, like several of its other major drugs, could lose market exclusivity in the coming years. That looming patent cliff has pushed the company to restock its pipeline via dealmaking.

The prize in Horizon’s product line is Tepezza, an infused biologic drug that relieves chronic eye bulging relating to a thyroid disorder called thyroid eye disease. Tepezza hit blockbuster sales numbers in 2021, its second year on the market, and earned just shy of $2 billion last year.

Horizon also markets Krystexxa, an infused treatment for gout that doesn’t respond to first-line treatment. The drug is on track to have sales of more than $800 million in 2023.

“We have strong momentum in our core business and the addition of Horizon will further position Amgen as a leader across a broader range of diseases,” said Amgen CEO Robert Bradway in a statement.

To gain Federal Trade Commission clearance, Amgen agreed to let regulators review its contracts with insurers to ensure the company isn’t using “bundling” practices to gain favorable formulary positions for its drugs. It also consented to other requirements meant to guard against anticompetitive behavior.

The agreement also requires Amgen sales personnel to annually review the terms of the FTC agreement and certify their compliance and to notify the FTC if either Tepezza or Krytsexxa win approval as self-administered drugs covered under insurers’ pharmacy benefits. Finally, Amgen must seek FTC permission before acquiring any other company marketing or developing treatments for thyroid eye disease or gout.

The deal’s clearance came as a relief to biopharma investors and executives, who feared a crackdown by the FDA on mergers and acquisitions — a primary way for big drugmakers to gain new products and for investors to earn returns.