Roche/Spark: FTC Commissioners Set to Vote as Soon as This Week on Pharmaceutical Deal

Published on Nov 05, 2019

FTC commissioners are set to vote as soon as this week on Roche’s (SWX: ROG) proposed $4.3 billion Spark Therapeutics (ONCE) acquisition, sources familiar with the matter said.

The vote would occur several weeks after agency staff recommended the commission clear the deal unconditionally. That conclusion followed an in-depth investigation to decide whether the merger would lessen potential competition in hemophilia A therapies, where Roche markets Hemlibra, a potential blockbuster. Spark is developing a gene therapy pipeline project—SPK-8011—that could effectively eliminate the need for Hemlibra infusions.

A majority of commissioners typically heeds a staff recommendation. A commission vote to close the investigation would not only provide a hard-won victory for Roche and Spark in the U.S. but also a potential boost for the companies in the UK, whose Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened a Phase 1 review of their deal late last month. CMA has said it plans to decide by December 16 whether to end the review or extend it into a Phase 2 in-depth investigation; the companies’ goal is to close the merger by year’s end.

Spokespeople for the FTC and Spark declined to comment. A Roche spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.