The European Commission announced Thursday morning that it had approved Johnson & Johnson's $21.3 billion purchase of medical device manufacturer Synthes, Inc., which has its U.S. headquarters and facilities in Chester County.

The commission was reviewing the acquisition on antitrust grounds amid the concerns that the combined company would dominate competition.

In statement on the commission's web site, vice president in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said the key to approval was J&J's decision to sell the trauma products from its DePuy division to Biomet for $280 million.

Synthes' trauma division is the market leader and adding the DePuy products would have been too much to maintain fairness, the commission said.

Part of that segment domination is due to its decades-long connection to the AO Foundation, which was formed by four Swiss surgeons.

"This was the first time the Commission examined these product markets," Almunia said. "We obtained remedies to ensure that competition will remain strong in these markets, for the ultimate benefit of patients and social security systems."

J&J is still awaiting approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The link to the EC press release is here.