(Adds comment from company in reaction to senators' concerns)
WASHINGTON May 14 Six U.S. senators asked
antitrust regulators to take a hard look at Pfizer Inc's
plan to buy rival AstraZeneca PLC if the two companies
reach a deal, saying they had "significant concerns" about how
the proposed transaction would affect consumers.
AstraZeneca, formed in 1999 from the merger of Sweden's
Astra and Britain's Zeneca, has rejected a $106 billion offer
from U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, but Pfizer has not given up and a
possible deal has raised concerns in Europe and the United
"Should a merger or acquisition ultimately be accepted by
AstraZeneca, whether under the terms of that offer or any
subsequent offer, we want to bring to your attention our
significant concerns with the potentially harmful impact to
consumers that would result," the senators said in a letter.
The senators, all Democrats, said that a 2009 deal by Pfizer
to buy Wyeth Laboratories was followed by a Pfizer decision to
close research and development sites.
"Pfizer's record of reducing efforts to innovate and bring
new products to market following prior acquisitions is plain,"
the senators wrote to the top officials of the Department of
Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The two agencies share
the job of enforcing antitrust law.
Pfizer took issue with this assertion, saying the lawmakers
"do not have all the facts about Pfizer's R&D (research and
"Since the integration of Wyeth, we have had good momentum
in R&D with 13 drug approvals," the company said in a statement,
noting that still more drugs were in the pipeline.
The lawmakers also criticized Pfizer for saying it wanted to
merge with AstraZeneca to create a UK holding company with a UK
tax domicile, while maintaining its operational headquarters in
"We view with skepticism any pro-competitive justification
offered in support of this acquisition in light of Pfizer's
stated motivation for the transaction - avoidance of U.S.
taxation," the lawmakers said.
The letter was signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal of
Connecticut, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Chris Coons of Delaware,
Dick Durbin of Illinois, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Sheldon
Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
Pfizer said in response to the senators' comment on taxes
that it expected discussions of a tax reform to continue.
"Pfizer supports comprehensive tax reform that enhances the
global competitiveness of U.S.-based companies operating
internationally," the company said in its statement.
(Reporting by Ros Krasny and Diane Bartz; Editing by Sandra
Maler, Peter Cooney and Ken Wills)