On 8 July 2009, the European Commission (Commission) released its final report into the European pharmaceutical sector. The sector inquiry began in January 2008, having been prompted by the Commission's concerns over the competitive relationship between originators of drugs and producers of generic drugs. The inquiry covers all 27 Member States from 2000 to 2007 and relates exclusively to prescription drugs for humans. The final report confirms some of the findings of the preliminary report, notably a number of specific behaviours which distort competition within the sector, such as ‘defensive patenting’ strategies, designed to exclude competitors and delaying the approval of competitor drugs in order to slow down their entry into the market. However, unlike the preliminary findings, the Commission has recognised that although company practices may play a role, some of the problems in the market arise from deficiencies in the regulatory regime (notably the patent system). Following the sector inquiry, it is likely that the practices of pharmaceutical companies, both originating and generic drug manufacturers, will come under close scrutiny by the Commission and national competition authorities.
On the same day the report was published, the Commission announced that it had opened formal proceedings against Les Laboratoires Servier and a number of generic pharmaceutical companies (including Lupin Limited, Matrix Laboratories Limited and Teva UK Limited) for suspected breaches of Articles 81 and 82 EC Treaty.
Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry Report
To read the Commission's final report on its competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector, click here.
Proceedings against Les Laboratoires Servier and others
To read the Commission's press release regarding the investigation, click here.