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European Commission Pursues Alleged Member of Pharmaceuticals Cartel Following Settlement with Other Cartel Members

  • 13/06/2024
  • News

Today, the European Commission (the Commission) publicly announced that it sent a Statement of Objections to Alchem for that firm’s alleged involvement in a cartel in relation to N-Butylbromide Scopolamine/Hyoscine (SNBB), the active ingredient of the anti-cramp medicine Buscopan® and its generic versions. Earlier, the Commission had concluded a settlement agreement with the other members of the cartel which agreed to the payment of a total fine of EUR 13.4 million (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News and Insights of 19 October 2023).
Alchem stands accused of having fixed with its competitors the minimum price of SNBB sold to distributors and generic suppliers. It allegedly also allocated quotas and exchanged commercially sensitive information with its rivals.
In pursuing the remaining member of a supposed cartel after the other alleged members agreed to concluding the infringement procedure by way of a settlement, the Commission once more pursues a “hybrid” enforcement route. It will feel secure in its approach, following the backing received from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in February 2024. The CJEU found in favour of the Commission in a challenge mounted by truck manufacturer Scania against an infringement decision that had punished an alleged cartel of truck manufacturers. The other participants had entered into a settlement agreement with the Commission. Scania argued that it had failed to be given a fair trial because of the Commission’s lack of impartiality which stemmed in large part from the Commission’s reliance on the same case team and the same evidence to reach the settlement before finding Scania guilty. The CJEU dismissed Scania’s arguments, thus paving the way for further hybrid settlement procedures.


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