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[e-drug] EU to charge two drugmakers over generics

E-DRUG: EU to charge two drugmakers over generics
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[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. 
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d9ce8402-d671-11e1-bd9c-00144feabdc0.html

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 
litigation.

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 
deaths.

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