EU anti-trust probe maintained on Johnson & Johnson, Novartis

European anti-trust authorities said Thursday they had sent written objections to pharamaceutical giants Johnson & Johnson and Novartis over a deal affecting generic medicine.

The European Commission said it had informed the US and Swiss companies of "objections regarding an concluded between their respective Dutch subsidiaries on fentanyl, a strong pain-killer."

The sending of a so-called "statement of objections" effectively means that a probe opened by the Commission in October 2011 was continuing.

The EU, which polices a single market of half a billion consumers, said it believed that an agreeement between the two drugs giants "delayed the market entry of a cheaper generic medicine in the Netherlands."

A statement said: "If our preliminary conclusions are confirmed, the Dutch subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson and Novartis entered into a so-called 'co-promotion' agreement to avoid competing against each other, depriving users of fentanyl in the Netherlands from access to a cheaper pain killer."

Commpetition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that Brussels would continue to fight undue delays in the market entry of generic medicines so that European citizens have access to affordable healthcare.

"It is also important to make sure that pharmaceutical companies do not free ride our welfare state and health insurance systems, especially in this period of constraints on public spending", Almunia added.

The EU executive said Janssen-Cilag, the J&J subsidiary supplying fentanyl in the Netherlands, concluded a so-called "co-promotion agreement" with its close generic competitor Sandoz, a Novartis subsidiary, in July 2005.

The agreement foresaw monthly payments from Janssen-Cilag to Sandoz for as long as no generic product was launched in the Dutch market.

Consequently, Sandoz abstained from entering the market with generic fentanyl patches for the duration of the agreement from July 2005 until December 2006.

Fentanyl is a pain-killer stronger than morphine that is used to treat patients with severe pain.

"This may have delayed the entry of a cheaper generic medicine for seventeen months and kept prices for fentanyl in the Netherlands artificially high," the Commission statement said.

A Commission spokesman refused to state the size of the monthly payments to Sandoz.

The probe is a further step in the Commission's fight against undue delay to generic entry though the sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU steps up generic pharma anti-trust probe

Dec 03, 2010

Europe stepped up action against drug companies snarling up the entry of cheaper generic medicines onto markets, announcing Friday spot inspections confirmed by British No.2 AstraZeneca.

Microsoft did not meet browser commitments 2011-12: EU

Oct 24, 2012

Microsoft did not meet commitments to provide clients a web browser choice in 2011-12, the European Commission said Wednesday as it pursued a probe that could lead to more fines for the US software giant.

US Google ruling has no impact on EU probe: Brussels

Jan 04, 2013

The decision by US authorities to close down an 18-month anti-trust investigation into Internet giant Google has no bearing on what the EU will do with its own probe, the European Commission said Friday.

EU hails Google's proposals in antitrust probe

Jul 24, 2012

The EU hailed on Tuesday proposals that Google has made after regulators launched an anti-trust probe into whether the Internet search giant had abused its dominant market position.

Recommended for you

Drug research and development more efficient than expected

Feb 27, 2015

Drug R&D costs have increased substantially in recent decades, while the number of new drugs has remained fairly constant, leading to concerns about the sustainability of drug R&D and question about the factors that could ...

Use new meningitis vaccines only for outbreaks

Feb 26, 2015

(AP)—A U.S. panel on Thursday recommended that two new meningitis vaccines only be used for rare outbreaks, resisting tearful pleas to give it routinely to teens and college students.

New antibiotic avycaz approved

Feb 26, 2015

(HealthDay)—The combination antibiotic Avycaz (ceftazidime-avibactam) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat adults with complicated infections of the intra-abdominal area or urinary tract, ...

Tagging drugs to fight counterfeit medicines

Feb 25, 2015

The U.S. and other countries are enacting rules to clamp down on the sales of fake pharmaceuticals, which pose a public health threat. But figuring out a system to track and authenticate legitimate drugs still faces significant ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.