European Commission Starts Competition Investigation against Vifor Pharma regarding Disparaging Statements Made against Rival's Medicine
The European Commission (the Commission) announced today that it would investigate disparaging statements made by Vifor Pharma, the marketing authorisation holder of Ferinject, an intravenous iron treatment medicine, regarding the safety of that product’s closest rival, Monofer, an intravenous iron treatment owned by Pharmacosmos. The Commission is of the opinion that these statements may amount to an abuse of dominant position contrary to Article 102, Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The statements allegedly formed part of a communication campaign that targeted healthcare professionals and created obstacles to the uptake of Monofer in the European Union and the United Kingdom where the parties appear to have had a a long-standing dispute about code-of-practice violations dating back to 2011.
Competition authorities have repeatedly pursued parties in an allegedly dominant position over deprecating statements made regarding competing products. Such statements often seek to create doubts regarding the targeted medicine’s safety, obviously a sensitive subject in the healthcare sector. In March 2021, the Commission had already started a similar case against Teva (Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News and Insights, 5 March 2021). In France, enforcement actions by the French competition authority, confirmed on at least two occasions following judicial review, gave rise to fines against Reckitt Benckiser, Janssen-Cilag (Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News and Insights, 26 December 2017 and 8 June 2022), and Genentech, Novartis and Roche (Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News and Insights, 9 September 2020).