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AstraZeneca-Nycomed antitrust charges dropped

Pharma companies cleared of delaying market entry of generic medicines

An investigation into whether AstraZeneca and Nycomed conspired to delay market entry of generic medicines into the EU has been dropped.

The European Commission (EC) called a halt to its antitrust investigation after finding no wrongdoing from either company.

The investigation had been prompted by an unannounced inspection of the companies' premises by the EC in November, 2010.

At the time the EC said it had "reason to believe that the companies concerned may have acted individually or jointly, notably to delay generic entry for a particular medicine".

"Such behaviour if established would have been contrary to EU antitrust rules that prohibit restrictive business practices and the abuse of a dominant market position," the Commission said.

The 2010 inspection followed an inquiry carried out by the EC between 2008 and 2009 into the industry, with a focus on possible delays of generic products to reach the market.

The inquiry found it often took as much as seven months after patent expiry before cheaper generic medicines became available.

The EC hasn't dropped its antitrust investigations altogether and other companies and continues to probe possible wrongdoing at Servier, Lundbeck, Cephalon, Teva, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis.

Last month, the EC dropped a misinformation investigation into whether Servier gave inaccurate details to the Commission's pharmaceuticals sector inquiry as part of the antitrust investigation.

The EC decided “significant” efforts would be needed to investigate Servier's defence and that the time would be better spent focused on the wider charges.

2nd March 2012

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