The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to block Illumina's proposed $7.1 billion acquisition of Grail, a provider of non-invasive DNA-based cancer screening, in an unusual move challenging a would-be merger of non-competitors.
- The FTC's complaint, backed by a 4-0 vote, alleges the acquisition would lessen innovation in the US market for oncology screening known as MCED, or multi-cancer early-stage detection tests.
- If approved, the deal would reunite the two companies. Grail was founded in 2016 as part of San Diego-based Illumina and was later spun out as an independent company. Last September, Illumina agreed to acquire Grail, now based in Menlo Park, Calif., just days after Grail announced plans to go public.
- The FTC will seek a federal court order and preliminary injunction to stop the deal pending an administrative trial set to begin in August.
- The complaint alleges that Illumina controls the market for gene-sequencing tools used by Grail and its MCED competitors. The biotech giant's purchase of Grail could hinder competitors' ability to enter the MCED market because it would take years for other test developers to switch to a new so-called next-generation sequencing platform, the FTC said.
- Illumina said in a statement it disagrees with the FTC case and will continue to pursue the deal.