An agreement to ensure competition for four drugs means the $7.1-billion merger of Hoechst and Marion Merrell Dow Inc. can be completed, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday.
The plan to create the world's third-largest drug company was announced in June but has not become final pending settlement of antitrust concerns by the FTC.
Under terms of the settlement, the combined company, Hoechst Marion Roussel Inc., will have to help another drug concern, Biovail Corp., complete research on a heart medicine that will compete with Hoechst Marion's popular Cardizem CD.
Hoechst will also have to sell off three other drugs to maintain competition in those products.
Cardizem CD, originally made by Marion Merrell Dow, is used for high blood pressure and angina. It is one of the 10 best-selling drugs in the country.
Other drugs affected by the settlement:
* Trental, sold by Hoechst, the only currently approved drug for a painful leg-cramping condition called claudication. Marion Merrell was developing Beraprost to compete.
* Marion Merrell's Pentasa, for treating gastrointestinal disease, and Rifadin, for tuberculosis. In both cases, Hoechst was developing generic versions of the drugs.