Novartis to Divest Oncology Drugs to Complete GSK Portfolio Purchase
Novartis has agreed to divest all of its BRAF and MEK inhibitor drug assets in order to move forward with its $16 billion acquisition of GlaxoSmithKline’s oncology portfolio.
The preliminary agreement, signed by Novartis and the FTC, calls for the brandmaker to turn over all BRAF and MEK therapies currently in development to Colorado-based Array BioPharma, the agency said. Novartis must also provide transitional services to Array to ensure against any interruption of the therapies’ development.
The divestment resolves FTC charges that Novartis’ planned acquisition of GSK’s cancer drugs would be anticompetitive. According to the commission, the companies are among a handful of drugmakers developing or marketing either BRAF or MEK therapies, which are used to treat melanoma and are being considered in other cancers as well. Novartis and GSK also comprise two of the three drugmakers working on a BRAF/MEK combination product to treat the skin cancer, the FTC says.
To purchase GSK’s cancer drug portfolio without divesting, Novartis would likely delay or cancel its BRAF and MEK development, which would deprive patients of potential therapies, the FTC adds.
The FTC settled on Array as the divestment party after consulting with its European counterparts.
European authorities signed off on the massive deal in January, which also has GSK paying $5 billion to acquire Novartis’ vaccine business. The portfolio swap will require other divestments to avoid antitrust findings and see the creation of a separate consumer healthcare joint venture.
The U.S. agreement is open to public comments through March 25, after which it must be finalized by the FTC’s commissioners.
Novartis confirmed the divestment plans. The transactions with GSK are on track to conclude in the first half of this year, the company said. — Bryan Koenig