Concerns about iNova weight loss pharmaceuticals deal

19 December 2019

The ACCC has raised preliminary concerns that the proposed acquisition of pharmaceutical developer Juno PC by pharmaceutical company iNova, would limit competition in the market for weight loss medication.

Juno PC is developing a new patent-protected, phentermine-based prescription weight loss medication.

iNova already supplies a branded and a generic version of phentermine-based weight loss medication. The products are sold by prescription, under the brand names Duromine and Metermine.

iNova currently has the only TGA-approved phentermine products sold in Australia and has a share of about 70 per cent of sales of weight loss medications. Other prescription and over-the-counter weight loss medications such as Saxenda and Xenical have much smaller shares.

“We are concerned that the proposed acquisition would remove the opportunity for Juno PC’s new product to enter the market as a strong competitor to iNova. Buying out a potential future competitor can raise competition concerns in the same way that buying an existing competitor can,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

“We consider that in the absence of the proposed acquisition, it is likely another pharmaceutical company would acquire Juno PC or partner with it, and compete with iNova. The proposed acquisition removes that potential competition.”

“We are also examining the possibility of other generic phentermine-based weight loss medications coming onto the market. However, even with that possibility, Juno PC’s product would provide an additional competitive constraint on iNova, because its patent-protected product is claimed to have better features such as a more consistent slow release profile,” Mr Ridgeway said. 

The ACCC has today published a statement of issues outlining its preliminary concerns. It invites submissions from interested parties by 7 February 2020. The ACCC’s final decision is scheduled for 9 April 2020.

Further information is available at iNova Pharmaceuticals (Australia) Pty Ltd - Juno PC Holdings Pty Ltd.

Background

iNova is a pharmaceutical company which develops, markets and sells a range of prescription medicines and non-prescription pharmacy products to over 20 countries across Asia, Australasia, and Africa. It sells the branded weight-loss phentermine product Duromine and the generic product Metermine. Both products are sold in the form of a slow release capsule.

Juno PC is a special purpose joint venture formed as an investment vehicle to support the development of a patent-protected, branded weight-loss phentermine product. Its product is in the form of a slow release tablet.

Phentermine is a prescription-only medication that acts as an appetite suppressant.

Other weight loss medications include Saxenda, a prescription product supplied by Novo Nordisk, and over-the-counter products such as Xenical (supplied by Roche Australia) and Contrave (also supplied by iNova).

Correction: An earlier version of this media release incorrectly referred to the supplier of weight loss medication Saxenda as Nova Nordisk. The company's name is Novo Nordisk.

Release number: 
247/19
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