The EU on Wednesday approved mega deals involving drug makers Novartis of Switzerland and GlaxoSmithKline of Britain, provided they sell off assets in the vaccines and consumer health businesses.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, approved GSK’s acquisition of Novartis’s global human vaccines business as well as a tie-up of their global consumer health business under GSK control, it said in a statement.
These were announced as part of a series of multi-billion euro pharmaceutical industry deals last April.
The commission had feared that the transactions, as initially planned, would undermine competition in vaccines against meningitis and diphtheria as well as in a range of consumer health products to stop smoking and to treat cold sores, cold and influenza.
To tackle the commission’s concerns, GSK pledged to “grant a worldwide, exclusive, perpetual licence of GSK’s Nimenrix vaccine for bacterial meningitis and divest GSK’s Mencevax vaccine for bacterial meningitis worldwide,” the commission said.
GSK also pledged to conclude supply, distribution and transfer agreements for Novartis’s vaccines against diphtheria and tetanus, it said.
The commission also approved Novartis’s plans to acquire part of GSK’s oncology, or cancer treatment, business portfolio.
It said “the decision is conditional upon the divestment of two of Novartis’s” treatments for skin cancer: LGX818 and MEK162.
“The Commission had concerns that the transaction would have reduced competition and innovation for these products,” it said.
The purchase by Novartis of GSK’s oncology business was for $16 billion (14.1 billion euros) in cash, including $1.5 billion that would depend on future performance.
GSK’s purchase of Novartis’s vaccines was for up to $7.1 billion, also in cash.