Competition Developments in Pharmaceutical Sector - UK Competition and Markets Authority and European Commission
The pharmaceutical sector continues to draw competition scrutiny across Europe.
On 9 June 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) concluded its investigation into the supply of fludrocortisone acetate tablets (FAT), a prescription-only medicine indicated for the treatment of primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency, known as Addison’s Disease (see, attached press release). Aspen Pharma (Aspen) of South-Africa, UK based company Amilco and Dutch firm Tiofarma had apparently agreed that Aspen would be the sole supplier of FAT in the UK. Amilco and Tiofarma were promised financial compensation, while Aspen was given free rein which allegedly allowed it to abuse its monopoly position and increase its prices for FAT by up to 1,800%.
Aspen had already acknowledged wrongdoing and agreed to pay a fine of GBP 2.1 million. It also offered commitments and promised to pay compensation to the National Health Service (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News Alert of 4 October 2019). Tiofarma has now agreed to pay a fine of its own while the public information suggests that Amilco escaped punishment.
Aspen also found itself in the spotlight of the European Commission (the Commission) which indicated that it expected to wrap up its excessive pricing investigation of the company still this year (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News Alert of 16 May 2017). The Commission added that the same schedule applied to its inquiry into alleged pay-for-delay practices suspected of impeding the market entry of generic modafinil, a sleeping disorder medicine. Teva is the direct target of this procedure but is also challenged indirectly in the guise of its subsidiary Cephalon (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News Alerts of 17 July 2017 and 10 June 2020).
The Commission stated its intentions in its Report on Competition Policy 2019 which it published on 9 July 2020 (see, attached staff working document, at p. 77 – the Commission’s main report is also attached).