On July 8 2014 the Competition Authority heavily penalised Cegedim, which had a dominant position in the market for medical information databases intended for pharmaceutical laboratories, for having implemented discriminatory practices against a competitor in the related market for client management software for the pharmaceutical industry.
Cegedim had refused to sell its One Key database to laboratories that used management software sold by Euris, but agreed to sell the database to those using competing software. This refusal was justified by the existence of an infringement dispute initiated against Euris.
Following a complaint lodged by Euris, the Competition Authority first examined whether One Key constituted essential infrastructure to which a competitor's clients should be granted access.
Although the authority found that, from an economic standpoint, the database was difficult to replicate, at least in the short term, it refused to consider it as essential infrastructure on the grounds that it was not indispensable. It was demonstrated that some laboratories function with their own databases, even if these are far less efficient.
The authority then examined whether Cegedim's discriminatory practice could be justified by Euris's allegedly unfair behaviour. On this point, it reaffirmed the position adopted in previous decisions, according to which the legitimate protection of a company's interests does not justify anti-competitive practices. The only option for Cegedim to protect itself was to bring a legal action before the competent authorities.
The abusive treatment suffered by Euris caused it to lose 70% of its clientele and any opportunity to develop its position on the market. In addition, the choice of client management software on the market was limited, to the laboratories' detriment.
Given the duration of the offence (six years), the seriousness of the facts and the damage to the economy, the authority imposed a €5.7 million fine on Cegedim and sent a strong message to companiesthat hold a dominant market position: although refusal to sell has not been prohibited per se since 1996, it is still punishable when it is discriminatory.
For further information on this topic please contact Emmanuelle van den Broucke or Sara Pomar at Dentons by telephone (+33 1 4268 4800), fax (+33 1 4268 1545) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Dentons website can be accessed at www.dentons.com.