Lundbeck charged with blocking entry of generic drugs
By Ophélie Spanneut | Wednesday 25 July 2012
The Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck is suspected of having prevented market entry of the generic version of its anti-depressant citalopram. Following the opening of proceedings, in January 2010, the European Commission informed the company, on 25 July, of its objections.
It appears that Lundbeck and four generic drug manufacturers entered into agreements that foresaw substantial value transfers from Lundbeck to its four competitors, which subsequently abstained from entering the market with generic citalopram for two years. Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that companies cannot do as they please and deprive citizens of the benefits of cheaper generic medicines. This type of ‘pay for delay’ practice was brought to light during a vast competition investigation carried out by the Commission in the pharmaceutical sector. The investigation revealed the means pharmaceutical companies resorted to in order to block the market entry of generic medicines. It looked into a selection of medicines that had lost their exclusivity in 17 member states between 2000 and 2007, and showed that citizens had to wait seven months after the patent had run out to obtain the generic equivalents.
This is not insignificant since generic medicines are on average 40% cheaper than their predecessors after two years on the market. Following the publication of the conclusions of this investigation in late 2008, the Commission decided to increase its checks in order to find cartels.
The Laboratoires Servier was the Commission’s first target. In July 2009, a formal investigation procedure was opened against Servier and several generic companies over the conclusion of agreements hindering entry onto the market of generic perindopril, a cardiovascular medicine. Almunia announced that Servier will also receive a statement of objections in the next few days.