E-DRUG: EU to charge two drugmakers over generics
[Thanks to Douglas for spotting. The practice of buying off your generic
competitors to delay the introduction of cheaper generics is indeed not in the
interest of consumers! Copied as fair use. WB]
Financial Times, 25 July 2012.
EU to charge two drugmakers over generics
Europe�s top competition regulator is issuing formal charges against French
pharmaceutical group Servier and the Danish drugmaker Lundbeck, in its latest
attempt to ease market entry for cheaper generic medicines.
The objections against Lundbeck, which were served on Wednesday, relate to the
group reaching deals with four generic makers allegedly to stop them bringing
out versions of citalopram, its bestselling blockbuster antidepressant.
Servier, a private French group that has been beset recently with regulatory
troubles, will be served with charges relating to its blood pressure medicine
perindopril in coming days.
Joaqu�n Almunia, the EU competition commissioner, announced the actions, saying
there were �significant competition problems� in the pharmaceutical industry.
�Private companies can�t be allowed to free-ride our welfare states and health
insurance systems,� he said.
The charges against Servier and Lundbeck are the first issued by the European
Commission since it launched a major review of the pharmaceutical industry in
2009, which identified key concerns about so-called �pay-to-delay� agreements.
An update to the review of the sector found that about 11 per cent of the 120
patent settlements last year were �problematic�, a lower proportion than the 20
per cent initially identified in the original inquiry.
The number of settlements rose fivefold last year, a fact the commission cited
as demonstrating that scrutiny was not stopping out-of-court deals to end
The commission said Lundbeck ensured generic versions of its product were not
released for a period of up to two years through direct payments and favourable
commercial agreements. Lundbeck said it �vigorously opposes any allegation of
wrongdoing� and said the commission�s accusations were �groundless�.
Investigators concluded that Servier entered similar uncompetitive agreements
with generic drugmakers, which could raise prices for health services. The
charges are also likely to accuse Servier of abusing its dominant position,
according to a commission statement.
Servier said it had yet to receive the statement of objections and stressed
that its issuance does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
The UK government sued Servier last year for �220m, alleging that the group
misused its market clout between July 2001 and July 2007 to prevent the generic
drug perindopril from reaching the market, forcing it to pay higher prices.
Servier is contesting the case.
Servier is already facing regulatory scrutiny and contesting claims over the
side-effects caused by its controversial diabetic drug Mediator, which has been
withdrawn. The French drug maker is currently on trial for allegedly misleading
authorities over Mediator, which officials suspect may be linked to hundreds of