ACCC not to oppose Sigma acquisition of Aspen

ACCC was satisfied that the competition concerns in the relevant markets would be remedied through t

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Sigma Pharmaceuticals' Pharmaceutical Division by Aspen Pharmacare on the basis that Aspen is providing an undertaking to sell certain brands to address the ACCC's competition concerns.

In Australia, Aspen and Sigma's Pharmaceutical Division compete in a number of pharmaceutical markets, including in the supply of various prescription generic medicines and over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.

In response to the ACCC's preliminary concerns outlined in a Statement of Issues published on 27 October 2010, Aspen and Sigma agreed that Sigma's iron polymaltose product, Ferrosig, would no longer be included in the proposed transaction.

To address the remaining concerns Aspen is providing a court enforceable undertaking that would require certain pharmaceutical brands to be divested.

Following the ACCC's consultation on the proposed undertaking, it was satisfied that the competition concerns in the relevant markets would be remedied through the sale of Sigma's Sone brand containing prednisone; Sigma's Solone brand containing prednisolone; and Aspen's LPV brand containing phenoxymethylpenicillin (penicillin V).

ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said the commission is satisfied, taking into account the divestiture undertaking by Aspen to sell certain pharmaceutical brands, that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition.

"The ACCC conducted an extensive review to assess the impact of this transaction on customers of pharmaceutical products, which include the Federal, State and Territory governments, pharmacists and patients and identified a number of pharmaceutical markets where competition concerns were raised," Samuel said.

"The proposed acquisition would remove the only competitor to Aspen in a number of pharmaceutical markets. Without the proposed divestitures, Aspen would become the sole supplier in these pharmaceutical markets."

The ACCC concluded that there were no competition concerns in other pharmaceutical markets in which the operations of Aspen and Sigma's Pharmaceutical Division overlap.