French Competition Authority, decision n°13-SOA-01 dated February 25, 2013 and n°13-SOA-02 dated February 26, 2013

The Competition Authority has announced that the pharmaceutical sector would be part of its priorities for 2013: it is now launching a sector based enquiry covering the entire drug distribution chain. The Authority is effectively looking at pharmaceutical laboratories, and, in particular at their pricing policies, at other competition related factors for drugs whose prices are fixed by the State authorities and at any restrictions on the entry of generic drugs on the market, at wholesale distributors, both as regards their relationships with the pharmaceutical laboratories and the pharmacies and as regards their role as importers or exporters of drugs and lastly at pharmacies, in particular as regards their role in the distribution of generic drugs and over-the-counter drugs as well as on-line drug sales.

The Authority is also launching a sector based enquiry on interregional coach transportation. This means of transport was not very well developed in France, up until 2011 (when the conditions for opening of transport lines were relaxed), despite its cost benefits and it being complementary to transport by rail. The Authority is therefore looking into the conditions for opening up of this market, the opportunities for opening up competition on internal transport lines, the existence of eventual competitive advantages of multimodal companies, such as the SNCF, as well as the conditions for cooperation between operators in terms of information and ticket sales.

After investigation, these two sector based enquiries will give rise to public consultations (respectively this summer and this autumn) before the Authority issues its final opinion containing recommendations.