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European Commission drops Servier misinformation investigation

Charges part of wider anticompetitive behaviour case involving generic perindopril

The European Commission (EC) has abandoned its investigations into whether Servier gave inaccurate details to the Commission's pharmaceuticals sector inquiry.

The French pharma firm had been suspected of providing “misleading and incorrect information” in an ongoing case against Servier involving breaches of Commission rules on anti-competitive behaviour.

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

The case involved claims Servier breached EC rules on restrictive agreements and abused its dominant market position, delaying market entry for generic versions of the company's hypertension treatment Coversyl Arginine (perindopril).  

A number of generic companies, including Krka d.d., Lupin, Matrix Laboratories, Niche Generics and Teva Pharmaceutical, are also involved in the investigation regarding agreements made with Servier that may have hindered market entry of perindopril products.

The anticompetitive case was launched after unannounced inspections at pharmaceutical companies in November, 2008, in several member states.

Following these investigations, the EC concluded that company business practices resulted in delays in generic drugs reaching the market and a decline in the number of novel medicines, and a flawed regulatory framework intensified the situation.

Methods identified by the EC for delaying entry onto the market of generic products included patent settlements with generic companies; litigation against potential generic competition; and 'patent clusters' – an overlapping set of patent rights requiring several licensing deals.

Since then, the EC has called for more competitive practices in the industry and requested Member States introduce legislation to facilitate the uptake of generic drugs.

1st February 2012

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