FTC Shuts Down Illumina’s Market Dominance Play Via Grail Acquisition

Citing concerns over potentially dampened competition in the U.S market, the FTC has given a thumbs down to the vertical acquisition deal that would have seen biotech company Illumina pay more than $7 billion to absorb cancer test solutions developer Grail. Following a late 2020 definitive agreement between the companies for cash and stock consideration, the FTC filed an administrative complaint in April of 2021 and moved forward with authorization of a federal court to block the proposed merger.

The same month, the European Commission took a referral request from a host of countries, including France and Norway, among others, to conduct a review of the acquisition. Four months later, Illumina pressed on with a gun-jumping announcement that the buyout was complete, although the EC’s review was still in process.

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In its ultimate decision, the FTC signaled that the deal might make Illumina the only viable NGS platform supplier for MCED tests, and the company wouldn’t have to work hard to step on Grail’s market competition by inflating costs or restricting access to supplies, services, or even new technologies. Illumina, for its part, plans to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for a review of the FTC’s decree. A decision is expected sometime later this year or in early 2024.