Novartis has received the green light from regulators in China and the US to proceed with its purchase of Alcon, but only if it sheds some of its products and businesses, including cataract drug Miochol-E.

The proposed deal, which will see Novartis purchase the 52% stake in Alcon owned by Nestle for $180 per share in cash, giving it a 77% holding in its fellow Swiss firm, has been OK’d by the Federal Trade Commission across the Atlantic on the proviso that Novartis sells its eye drug Miochol (acetylcholine), used in cataract surgery, to Bausch & Lomb (B&L) within ten days of deal completion.

This move is designed to prevent a monopoly of the market for injectable miotics - a class of prescription drugs used to induce constriction of the pupil - market, as Novartis and Alcon are the only two companies in the US selling such drugs, which generate annual sales of $12.4 million.

“Novartis’s acquisition of Alcon would harm consumers, who have in the past benefited from the direct competition between Novartis and Alcon,” the FTC said, adding that it believes B&L is “is well-positioned to manufacture and market Miochol-E and compete effectively against Novartis”.

China, EU OKs
Elsewhere, China’s Ministry of Commerce has also issued its stamp of approval for the deal, but only if Novartis stops selling of one of its eye anti-infection products for five years and suspends a partnership with Ginko International within 12 months, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Last week the European Commission Europe also approved the move, as long as Novartis sells off “several products in the ophthalmological pharmaceutical and consumer vision care areas”, while the nod was also received from the Competition Bureau of Canada, which stipulated the sale of Solocare Aqua, a multi-purpose contact lens solution, Miochol, and Zaditor (ketotifen), an ophthalmic anti-allergy agent.