FTC Questions Sandoz-Aurobindo Deal Plans

22.11.2019 -

Plans by Swiss drugmaker Novartis to sell $1 billion worth of assets belonging to its Sandoz generics subsidiary to India’s Aurobindo Pharma may run afoul of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In any case, it looks assured that any deal will be delayed beyond the prospective 2019 closure.

The FTC has requested more information on a lawsuit against Aurobindo, India’s Economic Times said, thus forcing the two companies to delay the transaction, which if successful would make Aurbindo the leading US generics producer in terms of sales, behind Israeli giant Teva.

The earliest possible date for the divestment is February 2020, the newspaper reported, quoting an anonymous executive of the Indian drugmaker.

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has already acknowledged that the FTC has asked for more information related to the deal, which involves some Sandoz dermatology products and some of its business.

Particulars of the FTC’s request have not been revealed; however, US pharma trade journal Fierce Pharma pointed to a lawsuit filed in May of this year, in which 44 states, led by Connecticut, accused 20 generics producers of price fixing.

The lawsuit accuses Teva of orchestrating a scheme with the other companies to divide up the generics market to prevent drug prices from dropping or simply to inflate them.

This was the second lawsuit of its kind after an initial case filed in late 2016, also by the Connecticut attorney general's office. Both Sandoz and Aurobindo are said to be named in the updated lawsuit.

Aurobindo had agreed to pay Novartis $900 million upfront for the assets. The deal was to include 300 marketed products and some development projects as well as three manufacturing facilities in Wilson, North Carolina, and Hicksville and Melville, New York.