Pharmacies Challenge Pfizer-Wyeth Merger

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – In a federal antitrust complaint, pharmacies that buy drugs from Pfizer and Wyeth say their proposed $68 billion merger would give the new company control of 40 percent of the market, cost thousands of jobs and lead to lower quality drugs at higher prices.

     Pfizer and Wyeth announced their $68 billion merger in January. If approved, it would be the biggest pharmaceutical merger in history.
     But pharmacies that buy drugs from the companies say the merger will result in the loss of at least 22,000 jobs and will give the new entity the muscle to sell low quality drugs of a limited selection. It would also smother innovation and research, the complaint states.
     Worse, the pharmacies say, is that four of the five financial institutions providing $22.5 billion in loans to facilitate the merger are recipients of about $120 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds from the government. The banks include Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase.
     “By buying Wyeth, Pfizer will mutate from a manufacturer of blockbuster pills to a one-stop shop for vaccines, biotech drugs, traditional pills, and nonprescribed products,” the complaint states.
     Pfizer’s CEO, Jeff Kindles, said of the merger, “In one single transaction, the combination with Wyeth advances every single one of (our) strategies.”
     The pharmacies claim the merger would violate the Clayton Act and the Sherman Act. They want it enjoined. Their lead counsel is Joseph Alioto.

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