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EU to monitor pharma patents

The European Commission has asked to see patent deals reached by several pharma companies as part of a sector-wide probe into generic medicines

The European Commission today announced it has asked to see patent deals reached by several pharmaceutical companies as part of a sector-wide probe into generic medicines.

The Commission, the regulatory body of the European Union, has demanded "a selected number of originator and generic companies" to disclose all patent deals relevant for the EU/EEA markets from the period of July 2008 to December 31 2009.

There will be a particular emphasis on patent settlements where "an originator company pays off a generic competitor in return for delayed market entry of a generic drug".

This probe into the affairs of pharma companies in the EU comes after the results of a sector inquiry earlier this year. The inquiry highlighted the possibility of European consumers being deprived of a wider choice of medicines at lower prices due to settlement deals between pharma companies and generic drugs makers to delay the release of cheaper medicine.

Competition commissioner with the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, commented regarding the settlement agreements for delayed market entry: "We need to monitor this type of agreement in order to better understand why, by whom and under which conditions they are concluded. The monitoring will also provide us with the possibility to act should this become necessary.

"Since completing the sector inquiry, the Commission has launched a number of new antitrust investigations and we will continue to do so should this be necessary."

The Commission has not mentioned the names of the companies approached.

12th January 2010

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