Belgium - In Enforcement Priority Note for 2022, Pharmaceutical Industry is Again Target of Belgian Competition Authority
The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has just published its enforcement priority note for 2022 (see, attachments). In keeping with its list of priorities in previous years and in tandem with the approach taken by fellow competition authorities, including the Dutch "Autoriteit Consument & Markt", the BCA will continue to have the pharmaceutical industry in the crosshairs and makes it clear that its vigilance and efforts apply to the entire value chain.
As if to remind stakeholders that it means business, the BCA refers to recent enforcement action against pharmaceutical wholesalers (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News and Insights of 18 February 2022). While this “hybrid” settlement case resulted in a fine of EUR 29.8 million for pharmaceutical wholesaler Pharma Belgium-Belmedis, the BCA continues to pursue proceedings against another wholesaler, CERP, which refused to settle. The BCA is also understood to handle cases involving excessive pricing and access to the hospital market.
Of broader interest than the pharmaceutical industry is the BCA’s announcement that its budget will benefit from an increase of EUR 1.4 million (20%). The additional funds are earmarked for staff expansion, IT, knowledge management, and enforcement tools such as e-discovery and whistle blowers.