EU rules on AstraZeneca-Alexion $39bn merger

Photo: EPA

EU antitrust regulators are expected to rule by the beginning of July if they allow a merger between the pharmaceutical conglomerates AstraZeneca and the US Alexion, Reuters reported. The value of the expected deal is estimated at some 39 billion dollars. AstraZeneca is a producer of one of the approved vaccines against Covid-19.

The company sought green light from the EU earlier this week for the deal, its largest ever in a bet on rare-disease immunology and to boost its business, which includes a fast-growing cancer medicines unit and a major Covid-19 jabs production.

The European Commission can either clear the deal with or without conditions or it can open a four-month long investigation if it has serious concerns. The UK Competition Authority and Markets Authority is also reviewing the bid which has already received the green light in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Russia.

Meanwhile Denmark's government asked the country's health authorities to reconsider a decision to exclude Johnson & Johnson's and AstraZeneca's Covid-19 shots from its vaccination programme. The move was prompted by a two-week delay in the Danish vaccination programme to September due to delivery of fewer Moderna and CureVac vaccines than expected, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said. Denmark excluded the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines over a potential link to a rare but serious form of blood clot. "We are now further into the epidemic, and the vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have now been in use in Europe for some time, Heunicke said. "There is a larger data base worldwide to assess the effect and side effects of the vaccines," he said. The health authority found in early May that the benefits of using the Covid-19 vaccines did not outweigh the risk of causing the possible adverse effect in those who receive the vaccine.

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