Earlier this week, the European Commission produced a press release indicating that it was launching an enquiry into pharmaceuticals, including unannounced inspections of various companies, as a response to indications that competition in pharmaceutical markets in Europe may not be working well. In particular, the Commission is looking into indications that fewer pharmaceuticals are being brought into market and that generic pharmaceuticals seem to be delayed. Both innovative and generic pharmaceutical companies are included in the enquiry. In particular, the enquiry will examine whether agreements between pharmaceutical companies, such as settlements in patent disputes, may violate the European Commission Treaty's prohibition on restrictive business practices and also whether companies may have created artificial barriers to entry. An interim report is planned for the fall of 2008, with final results expected in the spring of 2009. It is stated that vigorous competition in the pharmaceutical sector is crucial for the public to ensure both access by patients to state of the art medicines and value for money for health spending by individuals, private health schemes and government health services in Europe.

To review a copy of the press release, please see:  http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/49&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en