As Washington cracks down on pharmaceutical company greed, the largest ever health-care-acquisition between Allergan and Pfizer has been dissolved.
Pfizer was targeting the merger with Allergan, which has a legal ‘home’ office in Dublin, Ireland, and was meant as a safe haven to avoid paying millions in taxes to the US government. Pfizer is based in New York, and would need a foreign address in order to get a lower tax rate.
Big Pharma has been fighting with the current administration to avoid paying taxes for some time now. As Forbes reports:
“Jack Lew, Obama’s secretary of the treasury, called Pfizer’s bluff, instituting new rules to make the move as difficult as possible.”
This is likely what made Pfizer call off the merger with Allergan, and why the stock price is suffering. Should the $160 billion-dollar deal have gone through, it would have amounted to the largest merger in history.
Lew is also uncovering a host of shady dealings between at least half a dozen pharmaceutical companies which will now be affected by the ‘un-done’ deal. For example – Allergan, who makes Botox, used to pay taxes with a base in Irvine, California, but then was purchased by a Dublin-based pharma company called Actavis for $66 billion. Then there were a few more exchanges and mergers between a New Jersey-based pharma company, a Swiss-based company, and finally Allergan’s eventual tax-base in Dublin, Ireland.
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Lew says that the blow to Pfizer is just the first layer of the onion, and many of these other deals, which just happened to be paid for partially by tax-payer money, will be considered null and void with the new rules.
The slew of companies listed above were each trying to dodge US taxes – a practice which will be harder to achieve now that the dissolved Pfizer/Allergan deal stands as an example.
This tax evasion practice is doubly offensive since Americans pay more for pharmaceutical drugs than the citizens in any other country in the world.