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From Antitrust Law Daily, September 28, 2017

Abbott agrees to divestures to settle FTC concerns over Alere acquisition

By Jody Coultas, J.D.

Abbott Laboratories and Alere Inc. have agreed to a divestiture of two point-of-care medical device products line to settle FTC charges that the proposed $8.3 billion acquisition will cause harm to competition in the market for point-of-care blood gas testing systems and point-of-care cardiac marker testing systems, the FTC announced today (In the Matter of Abbott Laboratories, FTC File No. 161 0084).

Abbott produces, among other things, point-of-care diagnostic devices designed for use at a patient’s bedside. Alere is a manufacturer of rapid diagnostic testing devices. The FTC alleged that Abbott’s proposed acquisition of Alere would result in market concentration and likely harm competition in the U.S. for point-of-care blood gas testing systems (which measure blood pH, oxygen, carbon dioxide and electrolyte levels) and point-of-care cardiac marker testing systems (which measure specific proteins in the blood to assess whether a patient is having a heart attack or experiencing congestive heart failure).

Under the proposed settlement, Alere’s Epoc blood gas testing system will be divested to Siemens Aktiengelsellschaft, and its Triage cardiac marker testing system will be divested to Quidel Corporation. The divestures include all intellectual property. The parties must also divest Alere’s two Canadian facilities to Siemens, and Alere’s San Diego facility to Quidel. The settlement requires the parties to complete the divestitures no more than 30 days after the proposed acquisition is finalized.

The consent agreement allows the FTC to appoint a monitor to ensure compliance with the order, and allows the FTC to appoint a trustee if the parties fail to divest the products as required. The agreement will be subject to public comment through Oct. 30, 2017.

The FTC worked with the staff of antitrust agencies in Canada and the European Union to analyze the proposed transaction and remedies. "We are pleased that Abbott worked cooperatively with the Bureau to help resolve our competition concerns. This agreement will ensure that competition and innovation is preserved in the supply of point of care testing systems that Canadians rely on," said Matthew Boswell, Senior Deputy Commissioner, Mergers and Monopolistic Practices Branch of the Canadian Competition Bureau.

Companies: Abbott Laboratories; Alere, Inc.; Siemens Aktiengelsellschaft; Quidel Corporation

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