The Federal Trade Commission has issued an Opinion and Order mandating that Illumina, a DNA sequencing provider, divest GRAIL, which produces a multi-cancer early detection (MCED) test. The decision was made because the acquisition was deemed detrimental for competition and innovation in the U.S. market for cancer tests. The Opinion overturns a previous ruling by an Administrative Law Judge who dismissed the antitrust allegations in a complaint filed by FTC staff.
GRAIL creates non-invasive liquid biopsy tests that can detect various types of cancer in asymptomatic patients using DNA sequencing. It is competing with other companies in the race for these kinds of tests. Illumina is the leading producer of next-generation sequencing platforms, which are used in analyzing genetic material from blood samples for MCED tests. These tests could potentially detect several types of cancer that aren’t commonly screened for currently.
The Commission determined that the acquisition would have negative effects on innovation, prices, and options for MCED tests in the U.S. market. This is worrisome considering the urgency of developing efficient and reasonably-priced cancer detection tools.