European Commission Nixes Illumina’s Re-Purchase of GRAIL, Days After U.S. Go-Ahead

In a news release, the European Commission (EC) announced that it would block the acquisition of GRAIL by biotechnology company Illumina. The move comes just days after Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawyers announced their intent to appeal a ruling favoring the transaction.

GRAIL was originally spun off of Illumina five years ago, but the companies sought to reunite, according to Illumina’s press release announcing the deal.

“GRAIL’s¬†Galleri¬†blood test detects 50 different cancers before they are symptomatic. Illumina’s acquisition of GRAIL will accelerate access and adoption of this life-saving test worldwide,” the deal announcement said.

Explaining its reasoning, the European Commission stated that “In a race with other companies, GRAIL is developing a blood-based early cancer detection test. If successful, these tests will revolutionise our fight against cancer and help to save millions of lives.”

“Illumina is currently the only credible supplier of a technology allowing to develop and process these tests. With this transaction, Illumina would have an incentive to cut off GRAIL’s rivals from accessing its technology, or otherwise disadvantage them.”

Illumina announced its intent to appeal the European agency’s decision, maintaining that the merger is pro-competition.

Last Friday, Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell ruled against the FTC’s parallel bid to block the merger alongside their European counterpart, according to court documents. The FTC has not commented on the European Commission’s decision at the time of publication.