Published Online: Thursday, November 1, 2007

Antitrust regulators at the FTC gave thumbs up to Mylan Laboratories Inc?s acquisition of Merck KGaA?s German generic drug operations, but only after the companies agreed to divest 5 medicines.

In order to secure the agency?s antitrust blessing, the manufacturers approved plans to sell 5 generic drugs to Amneal Pharmaceuticals. The drugs to be divested under the arrangement include flecainide acetate, an antiarrhythmia medicine, plus 4 hypertension treatments: acebutol hydrochloride, sotalol hydrochloride AF, guanfacine hydrochloride, and nicardipine hydrochloride.

All 5 products were marketed by both firms, and FTC officials had argued that, without the divestiture, the proposed $6.6-billion acquisition would have ?significantly reduced competition for the sale and manufacture of (these) 5 generic drugs.?

?The Commission believes strongly in the benefits of lowpriced generic alternatives to branded drugs and strong competition between generic-drug manufacturers,? said Jeffrey Schmidt, director of the FTC?s Bureau of Competition. ?The order?will ensure that competition is maintained following the completion of this acquisition.? Industry sources expect the acquisition to triple Mylan?s already solid foothold in the generic-pharmaceutical market.

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