EU clears AbbVie takeover of Allergan subject to conditions

BRUSSELS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Friday it had approved U.S. drugmaker AbbVie’s planned $63 billion acquisition of Botox-maker Allergan, subject to conditions.

The Commission, which oversees competition policy in the European Union, said its approval was conditional on the divestment of a product under development by Allergan to treat inflammatory bowel diseases.

“Our decision makes sure that the merger between AbbVie and Allergan will not disrupt the development of a promising innovative treatment for these diseases,” Margrethe Vestager, commissioner in charge of competition, said in a statement.

The Commission had found that Allergan’s brazikumab was likely to compete with AbbVie’s risankizumab, but the merger would have led to research into brazikumab to be halted, “preventing a promising drug from reaching the market”.

To address the commission’s concerns AbbVie has agreed to sell brazikumab to an investor that would continue its development.

AbbVie announced its plans to acquire Allergan in June to give it control of lucrative wrinkle treatment Botox and buying time to seek new growth before its blockbuster arthritis treatment loses U.S. patent protection. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Francesco Guarascio)