Allergan, a company perhaps best known for being the makers of Botox, is in the process of being purchased by drug maker giant Pfizer, who produce, among other things, Lipitor, Viagra, Xanax, and Celebrex. In what would be easily the biggest buyout of the year, it has staggering implications for multiple reasons. First, it continues corporate monopoly trends, and second, it is an example of the largest corporate “inversion” so far. An inversion is a name for when an American corporation combines itself with a company that has its headquarters in a country with a lower corporate tax rate, thereby saving – at least – millions of dollars per year in U.S. taxes. Allergan is headquartered in Ireland, which is what makes it so attractive to Pfizer, which would count the company’s headquarters in Dublin as its principal executive offices in order to avoid the United States’ corporate tax rates, dropping their rates from about twenty-five percent down to around eighteen.
Inversion is by no means a new practice, and Pfizer has tried to escape U.S. tax rates before with an attempted $118 billion deal with a British company called AstraZeneca. However, this deal was dropped when neither company could agree on a price. While many have called for stricter regulations to curb this behavior, little has been done and what has been done has been largely ineffective at putting a stop to companies using inversion to their financial benefit. The U.S. Treasury has recently initiated new regulations that tighten ownership requires and bar some of the techniques necessary for mergers like the one Pfizer is attempting to make happen now, but it clearly has not affected much. The issue even has political ramifications, with politicians like Bernie Sanders criticizing the deal and commenting that it would spell disaster for Americans because they would have to pay higher prescription drug costs. Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton has proposed that she would take steps to prevent tax inversions by making even stricter regulations.
In terms of corporate monopoly, the acquisition would put name-brand medicine for heart disease, eye conditions and more in Pfizer’s possession and enable them to become the world’s largest drugmaker by revenue, surpassing Switzerland’s Novartis AG. This would be the fourth such deal done by Pfizer since 2000, and without more regulations, there’s no reason for them to stop, which means higher prescription drug costs for consumers, with it seeming like Botox can now be added to the list as well.
For more information, you can read an article detailing the buyout here.