European Commission fines Servier and five generic companies for curbing entry of cheaper versions of cardiovascular medicine

The European Commission has imposed fines totalling €427.7m (£340m) on the French pharmaceutical company Servier and five producers of generic medicines — namely Niche/Unichem, Matrix (now part of Mylan), Teva, Krka and Lupin — for concluding a series of deals all aimed at protecting Servier’s bestselling blood-pressure medicine, perindopril, from price competition by generics in the EU. Through a technology acquisition and a series of patent settlements with generic rivals, Servier implemented a strategy to exclude competitors and delay the entry of cheaper generic medicines to the detriment of public budgets and patients in breach of EU antitrust rules.

Perindopril is a blockbuster blood-pressure control medicine and used to be Servier’s bestselling product. Servier’s patent for the perindopril molecule expired, for the most part, in 2003. The European Commission found that in 2004 Servier acquired a protected technology just to stop the generic producers that were preparing their market entry. Servier never used the acquired technology.

The European Commission also found that Servier settled the challenges brought by the generic producers against its patents. The commission held that the settlements were not ordinary transactions where two parties decide to settle a patent claim outside of court to save time and costs. On the contrary, the generic companies agreed to abstain from competing in exchange for a share of Servier’s rent…

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