After launching competition proceedings against the pharmaceutical company TEVA Gyógyszergyár Zrt. (“TEVA”) two years ago, the Hungarian Competition Office (“HCO”) ruled on October 30, 2017 that subsequent commitments made by TEVA regarding the advertising of its well-known OTC product, Eurovit Multilong are acceptable. The HCO then terminated competition proceedings against TEVA without establishing an infringement.

On October 22, 2015, the HCO launched proceedings to examine whether TEVA’s advertising claims for Eurovit Multilong gave consumers the impression that the product is more effective than other multivitamins on the market, and promises a more permanent and consistent vitamin supply.

In its proceedings, the HCO requested information from TEVA, and a professional opinion from the National Institute for Pharmacy and Nutrition (“OGYEI”). Specifically, the OGYEI was asked to deliver an opinion on the “retard” quality of the product, and the differences between products that have and do not have a prolonged active substance release.

The HCO found that certain facts presented by TEVA about Eurovit Multilong were correct, but established that it shall assess the factual statements in relation to commercial practise, and how consumers may view any implications and suggestions made in the advertisements. The HCO further established that the communication method for Eurovit advertising may also have an impact on consumer behaviour, therefore, it also needs to be examined.

TEVA did not accept the OGYEI’s professional opinion or the HCO’s arguments. However, under the conditions set forth in the Act LVII of 1996 on the Prohibition of Unfair Trading Practices and Unfair Competition, TEVA has undertaken to:

  • apply a preliminary self-assessment system (“Full Message Control Method”) for avoiding, preventing and filtering advertisements with statements that could be potentially misleading and implicitly deceptive; and
  • initiate an education campaign for consumers with television and pharmacy advertisements that demonstrate the differences between “retard” and ordinary multivitamins, by emphasizing the “neutral” nature of retard multivitamins.

In light of expert opinion, the lack of consumer knowledge concerning the differences between retard products and ordinary multivitamins, results of the market research presented by TEVA, and industry-wide practises on how “retard” quality of the products are communicated, the HCO concluded that TEVA’s commitments effectively serve the public interest, and resulted in its decision to terminate competition proceedings without establishing infringement.