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EU to conclude Pfizer-Pharmacia review in coming weeks

Published on 24/10/03 at 04:35pm

The European Commission has restarted its review of Pfizer's merger with Pharmacia, and now expects to complete the investigation of the $60 billion deal by 27 February.

Pfizer says it is still on target to complete the transaction by the end of the first quarter, with hopes high that the US Federal Trade Commission will also clear the deal.

The companies are understood to have offered further concessions on product divestments in order to allay the regulators' anti-competitiveness fears.

Pfizer looks set to sell darifenacin, an incontinence drug in early stages of development, because Pharmacia already markets the incontinence treatment Detrol LA (Detrusitol XL in the UK), which had estimated sales in 2002 of nearly $800 million.

If the divestments prove to be insufficient for the EU, its Competition Commissioner Mario Monti could choose to launch a four-month probe into the deal.

The Commission's one-month investigation was suspended in November to allow more time to gather information on the two companies. By 're-starting the clock' the Commission must now report its conclusions on the deal by the end of this month or launch an extended review.

The FTC's own in-depth review of the transaction, also expected in time for a first quarter completion, has already led to Pharmacia handing back the rights to an early-stage male impotence drug and paying $13.5 million to Nastech, a small pharma company.

Once the deal is approved, Pfizer, already the world's largest pharma company, would increase its global market share to 11%. In terms of market share the enlarged company would be 50% bigger than GlaxoSmithKline, its nearest rival.

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