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Glaucoma treatments change hands under pharmaceutical merger

A proposed merger between two pharmaceutical companies that compete in the glaucoma treatment markets has been given the green light – with one major stipulation.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted a proposed merger between global pharmaceutical companies Mylan and Pfizer-owned Upjohn – whose combined businesses will be renamed Viatris – on the condition that they sell three off-patent branded pharmaceuticals in their portfolio to appease the ACCC’s competition concerns.

The off-patent products supplied to pharmacies and hospitals which are to be sold include two anti-glaucoma treatments with the active ingredients latanoprost and/or timolol, under the brand names Xalatan and Xalacom, and a cardiovascular treatment with the active ingredients amlodipine and/or atorvastatin, under the brand name Caduet.

The ACCC has approved Aspen as the buyer of the off-patent products, after an agreement was reached between Aspen and the merger parties, ensuring that competition that would have been lost will be replaced by competition from Aspen.

The ACCC was concerned the merger would significantly reduce competition for the supply of pharmaceutical products based on these active ingredients which are used to treat cardiovascular conditions and certain types of glaucoma.

The ACCC has approved Aspen as the buyer of the off-patent products to create competition that would have otherwise been reduced.

“For medicines based on latanoprost and latanoprost/timolol, we were concerned that remaining competitors would not be a sufficient constraint on the merged entity,” ACCC commissioner Mr Stephen Ridgeway said.

“Mylan and Upjohn are currently the only suppliers of amlodipine/atorvastatin, meaning the proposed merger would make the combined new firm, Viatris, the only supplier in the Australian market.”

He added: “Caduet, Xalatan and Xalacom are well established brands, and will provide the buyer with a strong opportunity to compete against the new combined firm Viatris.”

This merger is part of a global transaction that is also being considered by competition authorities in other jurisdictions.

In Australia, Mylan supplies a portfolio of approximately 350 generic pharmaceutical drugs and more than 450 branded, biosimilar medicines and over-the-counter remedies, while Upjohn supplies a portfolio of 18 pharmaceutical brands which are sold as off-patent products.

Aspen is currently the third largest pharmaceutical supplier by volume in the Australian market, operating from a manufacturing facility in Melbourne.

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