On November 24, 2008 officials from the EC and respective national competition authorities conducted unannounced inspections at several unnamed pharmaceutical companies located throughout the European Union. The raids constituted the beginning of an inquiry into suspected anticompetitive behavior within the pharmaceutical industry. The EC announced that it has reason to believe that members of the industry have engaged in restrictive business practices and/or abuse of dominant market position as prescribed by Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty.
These inspections are not related to the inspections conducted in January 2008, which were in relation to a general inquiry into competition among originator companies (companies developing and selling new medicines) and between originator and generic companies in the pharmaceuticals sector. The sector inquiry resulted in a report issued by the EC on November 28, 2008, which found that originator companies engaged in the following practices to delay or block the market entry of competing medicines: multiple patent applications for the same medicine (so-called patent clusters), initiation of disputes and litigation, conclusion of patent settlements that constrain market entry of generic companies and interventions before national authorities when generic companies ask for regulatory approvals.