Roche/Spark and pharma mergers: acquiring a ‘pipeline’ potential competitor and ‘killer acquisition’ concerns

Competition authorities are increasingly concerned that merger control may be missing acquisitions of early stage potential competitors. Roche’s $4.3 billion acquisition of Spark Therapeutics, recently cleared in the UK, brought together an existing treatment with a potential treatment still in clinical trials. The case signals increasing interest in highly uncertain potential competition concerns in the pharma sector, and raises policy issues around the appropriate threshold for likelihood of entry and the timeframe over which entry is expected to occur, with possible read across to other sectors.

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