EU fines pharma firms over generics delay (Update)

June 19, 2013
European Commissioner for Competition, Joaquin Almunia, addresses the media, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. The European Union says it has fined Danish pharmaceuticals multinational Lundbeck and several other producers a combined 146 million euros ($195 million) for delaying the market entry of cheaper generic alternatives to a major antidepressant to capitalize profit at the expense of patients. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

(AP)—The European Union has fined Danish pharmaceuticals multinational Lundbeck and several other producers a combined 146 million euros ($195 million) for delaying the market entry of cheaper generic alternatives to a major antidepressant.

The EU claimed that the companies sought to capitalize profit at the expense of patients.

EU Antitrust Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Wednesday that Lundbeck alone was fined 93.8 million euros ($125.6 million) for anti-competitive behavior, charging it agreed with several companies to delay the entry of generic versions of its antidepressant citalopram.

Lundbeck immediately announced it would appeal the fine and insisted it did not unduly restrict competition.

Almunia's decisions came only days after the U.S. supreme court said that "pay-for-delay" deals between pharmaceutical corporations and generic drug companies can sometimes be illegal and challenged in court.

Almunia took a similar line for the 27-nation EU.

"It is unacceptable that a company pays off its competitors to stay out of its market and delay the entry of cheaper medicines," Almunia said. "We are confirming that the so-called 'pay for delay' deals constitute severe infringements."

Even though the beginning of the case stems from 2002, Almunia said such practices were especially painful during years of economic crisis when EU nations need to tighten their budgets. Traditionally, health care is a huge draw on expenses.

"Agreements of this type directly harm patients and national health systems, which are already under tight budgetary constraints," he said.

He said that prices in Britain for the generic version of citalopram fell 90 percent compared to Lundbeck's price once the generic market entry finally took place.

EU officials are investigating three similar cases but Almunia said he had "the impression that the anti-competitive practices have been reduced" since an initial inquiry into the sector in 2009.

In the case of Lundbeck, the EU said that four major generic producers agreed not to enter the market, getting "tens of millions of euros" in return. It said that company documents referred to a "club" which would share "a pile of $$$," adding that Lundbeck also bought generic stock only to destroy it.

Such practices go against the core purpose of generic medicine, Almunia said.

"It is therefore crucial that the European citizens are not deprived of cheaper health bills by anticompetitive practices," he said.

Explore further: Lundbeck profit jumps but warns on generic pressure

Related Stories

Lundbeck profit jumps but warns on generic pressure

May 1, 2013
Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck Wednesday posted a higher than expected quarterly net profit, helped by the expansion of an alliance with Japan's Otsuka and the divestment of a US portfolio of non-core products.

EU approves medication that quenches urge to drink alcohol

February 28, 2013
The European Union has given the green light for the sale of a medication that will help quench the urge for alcoholics to drink, the companies behind the new treatment said Thursday.

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

January 31, 2013
European anti-trust authorities said Thursday they had sent written objections to pharamaceutical giants Johnson & Johnson and Novartis over a deal affecting generic medicine.

Recommended for you

Patients receive most opioids at the doctor's office, not the ER

January 16, 2018
Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main ...

FDA bans use of opioid-containing cough meds by kids

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Trying to put a dent in the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday slapped strict new restrictions on the use of opioid-containing cold and cough products by kids.

Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology

January 9, 2018
A team of researchers from Denmark and France has found that taking regular doses of the pain reliever ibuprofen over a long period of time can lead to a disorder in men called compensated hypogonadism. In their paper published ...

Nearly one-third of Canadians have used opioids: study

January 9, 2018
Nearly one in three Canadians (29 percent) have used "some form of opioids" in the past five years, according to data released Tuesday as widespread fentanyl overdoses continue to kill.

Growing opioid epidemic forcing more children into foster care

January 8, 2018
The opioid epidemic has become so severe it's considered a national public health emergency. Addiction to prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine, has contributed to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and ...

Price tag on gene therapy for rare form of blindness: $850K

January 3, 2018
A first-of-its kind genetic treatment for blindness will cost $850,000 per patient, making it one of the most expensive medicines in the world and raising questions about the affordability of a coming wave of similar gene-targeting ...

0 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.