French Competition Authority Starts New Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry
The French competition authority (“Autorité de la concurrence” or “AC”) announced today that it would start a new inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector. In the attached press release, the AC notes that its previous recommendations – based on earlier inquiries – “have been followed only in part”. It will therefore set out to update its findings and take stock of new market developments. It expressly confirms that it will also investigate biological medicines. The inquiry will focus on two major subjects: (i) the pharmaceutical distribution chain; and (ii) medicine pricing. While some of these issues are informed by the specific regulatory framework that applies in France, a number of subjects will certainly prove relevant elsewhere. Conversely, the AC states that it plans to study “regulatory practices in other EU Member States” as well.
Pharmaceutical Distribution Chain
According to the AC, earlier investigations showed that intermediaries in the distribution chain do not have much buying power and lose out to pharmaceutical firms dealing directly with pharmacies. The AC will now ascertain whether these findings still stand and will consider issuing new recommendations.
The AC will furthermore reassess the retail monopoly currently enjoyed by pharmacists and study once more means of developing online sales.
The AC will examine a range of issues, including (i) compensation paid for truly innovative medicines; (ii) the need for more robust competition among medicines of the same therapeutical class; (iii) the beneficiaries of generic competition; and (iv) the determination of prices in hospitals.
Enclosed for your information is the AC’s decision to launch its sector inquiry.