The Commission has published a summary on its enforcement actions following the competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector concluded in 2009. According to the Commission, the sector inquiry indicated a number of structural shortcomings and problems in the companies’ practices that potentially led to distortions of competition and delays to entry of new, innovative as well as cheaper generic medicines into the EU market. One of the main findings was that competitive pressure from generic producers, once the primary patent of the originator medicine had expired, was not as strong as expected, partly as the result of so-called pay-for-delay agreements. The sector inquiry also highlighted the competition problems linked to some unilateral practices of dominant companies, such as those aimed at shutting out generic competitors from the market. Following its competition inquiry the Commission has issued Statements of Objections against pharmaceutical companies in three major cases concerning citalopram, an antidepressant, perindopril, a cardio-vascular medicine, and fentanyl, a pain-killer. In addition, the Commission has other ongoing antitrust investigations in the pharmaceutical sector. With regard to market monitoring, the Commission has published three patent settlement monitoring reports aiming to identify potentially problematic settlements from an antitrust perspective. The proportion of such potentially problematic settlements has stabilized at a low level of 11% compared to the 21% in the findings of the sector inquiry, while the total annual number of concluded settlements has increased significantly, reaching 120 in 2011. Finally, the Commission proposed in March 2012 to amend the Transparency Directive to give faster access to medicines for patients by streamlining and reducing the duration of pricing and reimbursement. The review has now proceeded to the first reading in the co-decision procedure that involves the Council of Ministers of the EU and the European Parliament. The Commission also welcomes the progress made in the creation of a unitary patent system as well as a corresponding patent court. Source: Commission Press Release 31/01/2013