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FTC Fails Consumers by Approving AbbVie-Allergan Merger

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Access to Medicines Director, Public Citizen

Note: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Tuesday approved by a 3-2 vote a settlement agreement to allow a merger of AbbVie Inc. and Allergan plc to proceed. The agreement requires only divestiture of three drugs. In January, Public Citizen published “By Any Means Necessary,” a report on Allergan’s anticompetitive conduct and promotion of opioids. In April, Public Citizen called for a pause on any mergers during the pandemic. The merger will create the world’s fourth largest pharmaceutical corporation.

Two price-gouging patent manipulators unite, and the FTC has failed consumers again.

AbbVie is notorious for manipulating patents for the blockbuster medication Humira. Allergan is notorious for trying to use the sovereign immunity of a Mohawk tribe to extend its patents and for flooding the country with opioids. We can look forward to new efforts to destroy competitive markets by the pharma giant that emerges from this deal, in an industry increasingly focused on monopolizing yesterday’s inventions instead of creating new ones.

In recent years, the FTC has taken more than a dozen actions related to Allergan and its subsidiaries, but their abuses have continued largely unabated. The FTC should not have let this megamerger go through in a pandemic.