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EU drops Boehringer Ingelheim patent probe

The EU has closed antitrust investigations regarding Boehringer Ingelheim's COPD drugs

The European Union has dropped an antitrust investigation into Boehringer Ingelheim's patents for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatments.

The decision came as German firm Boehringer Ingelheim agreed to remove "blocking positions" that Spanish rival Almirall alleged prevented sales of its treatments for COPD.

In addition, the EU's antitrust agency said pharmaceutical companies struck only three “problematic” patent- settlement deals in 2010 that may be used to delay the sale of generic versions of medicines.

Joaquín Almunia, commission vice president in charge of competition policy, said: "I note with satisfaction that the number of patent settlements potentially problematic under EU antitrust law continues to decrease without calling into account companies' legitimate right to settle disputes amicably.

"The commission will remain vigilant that companies' behaviour respect antitrust law and do not delay entry of cheaper pharmaceuticals," he added.

7th July 2011

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