The U.S. is suing Illumina for blocking the purchase of a liquid biopsy group
The Federal Trade Commission has sought to block Illumina’s $ 7.1 billion planned purchase of Grail to launch a cancer screening sponsored by Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, citing concerns that it will hurt competition in the U.S. market.
The agency filed a lawsuit Tuesday to suspend the deal, a strange move for two companies that are not direct competitors, saying it would slow down innovations for new tests designed to detect cancer early.
The emerging grail is one of several companies specializing in the field of liquid biopsy, where blood samples are used to detect cancer.
Illumina, who founded Grail less than six years ago and owns nearly 15 percent of the company, sells the genetic sequencing machines used for testing. This has raised concerns in the FTC that the San Diego biotechnology company could raise prices for its Grail rivals and eliminate competition.
“Vertical mergers in the healthcare sector can stifle competition, kill new discoveries and raise prices for patients,” FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra said on Twitter.
Illumina said he would oppose the action and continue with the transaction. CEO Francis deSouza said the company “has a strong interest in ensuring that all organizations have equal and direct access to high-quality, reliable, and cost-effective sequencing.”
Grail CEO Hans Bishop said the combination will “get more access to the Grail test faster thanks to more patients in the United States and around the world.”
Illumina initially created Grail as a separate company in 2015, taking over the main stake in the new company. Grail continued to raise capital for investors such as Johnson & Johnson, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Committee and Arch Venture Partners.
Illuminate has announced an agreement acquisition of Grail in September, agreeing to give a portion of the initial future revenue to existing shareholders for 12 years.
Prior to the deal, Grail said the initial public offering would raise $ 100 million. The company has raised a total of $ 2 billion from investors, according to data from the PitchBook.
The action is not the first time the FTC has taken action against the Illuminati. In 2019, the agency proposed the purchase of the company’s $ 1.2 billion Pacific Biosciences gene sequencing system, and the company canceled the transaction.
Shares of Illumina fell more than 7 percent on the lawsuit.