The CMA has been slowly but surely opening a raft of new investigations in the pharma and medical devices industries.

It announced last week that it is investigating suspected anti-competitive conduct in the medical equipment sector under Chapter II CA 98 and Article 102 TFEU. An initial 6-month timetable is set down, with the CMA hoping to be in a position to decide whether to take the investigation into the Statement of Objections phase by around October.

Last week also saw the CMA announce that it is investigating anti-competitive arrangements in the pharmaceutical sector under Chapter I CA and Article 102. This will follow the same timetable.

Just a few weeks earlier, the CMA announced another separate investigation into suspected abuses of a dominant position in the pharma sector.

The CMA recently closed a possible market investigation into possible anti-competitive causes of medicines shortages and it is possible that at least some of these investigations will be shelved before more public information is made available. However, at least two other longer-standing pharma-industry-focused investigations remain on foot, including:

  • The investigation into possible excessive prices charged by Pfizer for phenytoin sodium, which we have been following here on The CLIP Board: a formal Statement of Objections has been sent in this case, and an oral hearing held; last week Pfizer was fined £10,000 for a procedural infringement in connection with a failure to provide information, a salutary reminder for those involved in CMA investigations in any industry, as the CMA itself points out (“The imposition of an administrative penalty [on Pfizer] […] is critical to achieve deterrence, ie to impress both on the party under investigation, and more widely, the seriousness of a failure to comply with a statutory deadline, without a reasonable excuse.”…). A decision is due in around August 2016.
  • An investigation into possible abusive discounts which is coming towards the end of its initial phase, and should be the subject of a decision to close or proceed next month.

One case which was not shelved was the Paroxetine patent settlements case (see our earlier post here). Following the CMA’s imposition in February of £45 million of fines, it has been confirmed that GSK and all of the generics have appealed to the CAT. The full text of the infringement decision has still not been published by the CMA, but the notices of appeal against the CMA’s decision have appeared on the website of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

GSK’s appeal encompasses eight separate grounds, six of which are on issues of substantive law (with two subsidiary grounds on the fining decision). It is evident from GSK’s appeal that the CMA has followed the Commission in proceeding on the basis of both object and effect analyses in their Article 101/Chapter I infringement decisions, as well as in claiming an abuse of dominance arising from the set of facts. GSK is unsurprisingly appealing the finding of dominance, which arose from the identification of a relevant market limited to a single molecule.

The CMA is clearly keeping a close eye on the pharmaceutical and medical industries – and we will continue to keep a close eye on the CMA’s activities in this area.