Spanish Competition Authority Accuses Merck Sharp & Dohme of Abuse of Intellectual Property Rights to Delay Third-Party Market Entry
On 21 November 2019, the Spanish competition authority, the "Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia ("CNMC"), showed once again its determination to crack down on anticompetitive practices in the pharmaceutical sector when it announced the start of competition proceedings against Merck Sharp & Dohme S.A. and its European parent company MSD Human Health Holding B.V. (together MSD) (see, attached press release).
MSD stands accused of having abused its intellectual property rights, through court action and otherwise, in hopes of delaying third-party entry on the Spanish market for combined hormonal contraceptive medicines of the vaginal ring type. MSD may thus have breached Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union as well as its Spanish counterpart, namely Article 2 of Law 15/2007 of 3 July 2007 on the Protection of Competition. The CNMC has been quick in reaching its tentative conclusion as on premise inspections in this case took place as recently as May 2019 (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences Newsflash of 27 May 2019).