A US judge has allowed the FTC to temporarily block Reuters’ acquisition of DeepIntent by IQVIA

© Reuters. PHOTO: The seal of the Federal Trade Commission is seen during a news conference at the FTC’s headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo/File Photo

By GursimranKaur Mehar and Mrinmay Dey

(Reuters) – A U.S. court on Friday upheld an order by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block IQVIA’s acquisition of DeepIntent, a healthcare advertising company, because it could harm competition.

DeepIntent, owned by Propel Media, a digital advertising company, has entered into a 2022 deal with US data and analytics firm IQVIA to facilitate seamless communication between patients and healthcare providers.

Earlier this year, the FTC stepped in to block IQVIA and the proposed DeepIntent merger to prevent increased concentration in programmatic healthcare advertising.

The merger would harm competition and lead to higher prices for consumers and harm patients, the FTC said.

DeepIntent’s CEO previously said in an open letter that the company would back out of the deal and remain an independent company if the regulator gets the block. The financial terms of the transaction are not known.

U.S. District Judge Edgar Ramos, in favor of the FTC, granted the U.S. Antitrust Division a preliminary injunction to block the deal.

In the decision, Ramos said, “The FTC has shown that there is a reasonable likelihood that the proposed acquisition will substantially distort competition in the relevant market and that the stock weighs in favor of injunctive relief.”

IQVIA said in an emailed statement to Reuters that it was disappointed by the court’s decision and was reviewing the decision and evaluating its options.

“We maintain that the FTC’s arguments in this case are inconsistent with market realities and not supported by law,” IQVIA said.

DeepIntent and the FTC did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.