Over the past few years, the European Commission has been investigating perceived anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceuticals sector. The commission launched an inquiry into the sector in January 2008, publishing its final report in July 2009. The final report found that the market was not functioning as it should be and that these deficiencies could largely be attributed to delays in entry of generic medicines to the market.
The commission concluded that originator drug companies were using a number of methods to extend the commercial life of their medicines and to prevent or delay the entry of generics. In particular, the commission has been monitoring patent settlement agreements, reflecting its concern that such agreements are being used as a means to delay the entry of generic products onto the market and to artificially extend the patent holder’s monopoly.
The first case worthy of mention involves Lundbeck and its drug citalopram, the antidepressant. The commission alleged that Lundbeck concluded agreements with generic competitors to prevent the market entry of competing generic versions following the expiry of its patents. Essentially, the commission claimed that Lundbeck paid substantial sums to the generic competitors in return for a delay in launching generic products onto the market. Following an investigation, the commission decided on 19 June 2013 that, in 2002, Lundbeck and the generic competitors were guilty of entering into such agreements and fines of €93.8m (£80m) and €52.2m were imposed upon Lunbeck and the other companies respectively…
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