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Portuguese Competition Authority Warns Association of Pharmacists to Comply With Competition Rules During Covid-19 Crisis

  • 22/05/2020
  • Articles

The “Autoridade da Concorrência” (the AC), the Portuguese competition authority, published on 21 May 2020 a warning for professional associations, including the national association of pharmacies (Associação Nacional das Farmácias or ANF), that they should observe the competition rules, even during the Covid-19 crisis (see, attached press release in Portuguese and English versions). The warning also targeted associations in the financial sector.
 
The message of the AC echoes that conveyed lately by many other competition authorities and indeed the European Competition Network of competition authorities (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News Alert of 24 March 2020). These authorities all wish to countenance limited and temporary forms of cooperation by firms that face exceptional circumstances, but will remain tough on egregious forms of collusive or abusive behaviour. In striking a similar balance, the AC would nonetheless seem to be more intent on making sure that Covid-19 is not turned into a pretext for anticompetitive conduct. For example, AC stresses that professional associations should not impinge on the commercial freedom of their members and should not allow members to exchange sensitive commercial information.
 
The AC says it stands ready to offer informal guidance and specifies that it counseled ANF regarding the maximum margin to be applied to sales of personal protective equipment which was later made subject to regulation.

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