The "COVACTA trial did not meet its primary end-point of improved clinical status in patients with Covid-19 associated pneumonia, or the key secondary end-point of reduced patient mortality," Roche said (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo).

Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has won UK regulatory approval for its planned takeover of gene therapy firm Spark Therapeutics.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Monday “unconditionally” cleared the tie-up saying that the deal between Roche and the Philadelphia-based company “would not negatively affect competition.”

In the statement the regulators stated that “UK health services and patients will still have an adequate choice of alternatives.”

An investigation launched by the CMA also found that there were several innovative non-gene therapy products under development that were likely to become viable alternatives to Roche and Spark’s treatments.

Roche is understood to have an interest in Spark Therapeutics – an early leader in gene therapy – to bolster its presence in the lucrative rare disease market. Competition authorities have been investigating the deal to make sure that it doesn’t allow Roche an unfair advantage over rivals.

The regulators say while Roche supplies a drug called Hemlibra, “a relatively-recent” but “important and innovative medicine for patients in the UK”, Spark is developing a gene therapy treatment for Haemophilia A that will likely “compete with Hemlibra in future”.

But the CMA’s probe found that Spark was not the only supplier developing such a treatment and that its products were “not currently considered to hold any particular clinical or commercial advantages over those being developed by other suppliers.”

On that basis, the regulators on Monday have given their clearance to Roche, paving the way for the Swiss firm’s planned $4.3 billion (aprox. £3.22bn) takeover of Spark Therapeutics, although a review of the merger still continues in the US.

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