AstraZeneca, formed in 1999 from the merger of Sweden's Astra and
Britain's Zeneca, has rejected a $106 billion offer from U.S.
drugmaker Pfizer, but Pfizer has not given up and a possible deal
has raised concerns in Europe and the United States.
"Should a merger or acquisition ultimately be accepted by
AstraZeneca, whether under the terms of that offer or any subsequent
offer, we want to bring to your attention our significant concerns
with the potentially harmful impact to consumers that would result,"
the senators said in a letter.
The senators, all Democrats, said that a 2009 deal by Pfizer to buy
Wyeth Laboratories was followed by a Pfizer decision to close
research and development sites.
"Pfizer's record of reducing efforts to innovate and bring new
products to market following prior acquisitions is plain," the
senators wrote to the top officials of the Department of Justice and
the Federal Trade Commission. The two agencies share the job of
enforcing antitrust law.
Pfizer took issue with this assertion, saying the lawmakers "do not
have all the facts about Pfizer's R&D (research and development)."
"Since the integration of Wyeth, we have had good momentum in R&D
with 13 drug approvals," the company said in a statement, noting
that still more drugs were in the pipeline.
The lawmakers also criticized Pfizer for saying it wanted to merge
with AstraZeneca to create a UK holding company with a UK tax
domicile, while maintaining its operational headquarters in New
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"We view with skepticism any pro-competitive justification offered
in support of this acquisition in light of Pfizer's stated
motivation for the transaction - avoidance of U.S. taxation," the
The letter was signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut,
Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Chris Coons of Delaware, Dick Durbin of
Illinois, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode
Pfizer said in response to the senators' comment on taxes that it
expected discussions of a tax reform to continue.
"Pfizer supports comprehensive tax reform that enhances the global
competitiveness of U.S.-based companies operating internationally,"
the company said in its statement.
(Reporting by Ros Krasny and Diane Bartz; Editing by Sandra Maler,
Peter Cooney and Ken Wills)
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