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EC forced to reconsider GSK case

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the EC reconsider its decision on GSK two-tier pricing policy in Spain

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has won a court judgment that obliges the European Union to re-evaluate its ruling that the pharma company's two-tiered medicines pricing in Spain breached community competition laws.

The EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice, has ruled that the European Commission must reconsider whether or not GSK's pricing policy in Spain, which came into effect on March 9, 1998, should be exempted from antitrust laws.

In May 2001, the Commission decided that GSK's general sales conditions were prohibited by community competition law, because they constituted an agreement restricting competition and because GSK had not proved that the conditions necessary for such an agreement to be able to benefit from an exemption were satisfied.

Under the pricing policy GSK charged one price for medicines used domestically and a higher price for exported drugs.

The move to reconsider the initial ruling does not mean that GSK's policy will be accepted. However, the case will provide guidance on pharma companies' attempts to block parallel importation in Europe.

In September 2006 the Court of First Instance upheld the commission's finding that GSK infringed anti-trust laws. However, it annulled the remainder of the commission's decision, finding that it had not carried out an adequate examination of GSK's request for an exemption.

7th October 2009

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