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EC carries out surprise antitrust raids

The European Commission has confirmed it carried out a series of unannounced inspections at pharmaceutical companies on December 9

The European Commission (EC) has confirmed it carried out a series of unannounced inspections at pharmaceutical companies on December 9. The inspections were conducted to identify if the companies involved had breached the EC Treaty by misusing a dominant position or being involved in anticompetitive activities.

A statement issued by the EC points out that surprise inspections are a preliminary step in the investigation of suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that an inspection has taken place does not mean that any of the companies involved is guilty of anti-competitive behaviour.

None of the companies visited has been named by the EC. However, Lundbeck has published a statement confirming that an inspection took place at its Italian sales office in Milan. Lundbeck states that the inspection was merely a follow-up to an earlier visit conducted by the Commission in 2005 and is therefore not addressing any new issues.

In July 2009, the European Commission published its final report on competition in the pharmaceutical sector. The report called for Member States to introduce legislation to facilitate the uptake of generic drugs.

Calling for more competition and less red tape in the pharmaceutical industry, Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition, said: "The sector is too important to the health and finances of Europe's citizens and governments to accept anything less than the best. The inquiry has told us what is wrong with the sector, and now it is time to act. When it comes to generic entry, every week and month of delay costs money to patients and taxpayers. We will not hesitate to apply the antitrust rules where such delays result from anticompetitive practices. The first antitrust investigations are already under way, and regulatory adjustments are expected to follow dealing with a range of problems in the sector."

At the time the report was published, antitrust investigations were ongoing to monitor settlements between originator and generics manufacturers. Companies under investigation included Servier, Teva, Krka and Lupin.

10th December 2009

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