Spain and the Netherlands - Competition Authorities Begin and End Inquiries in Pharmaceutical Industry
The pharmaceutical industry has been in the crosshairs of competition authorities around Europe for quite some time. This week offers fresh developments.
The Spanish competition authority (CNMC) announced today that it opened an inquiry into the Spanish market for the sale of pharmaceuticals to pharmacies a few days ago (see, attached press release). The CNMC started its investigation with the on-premise inspection of unnamed firms that allegedly exchanged sensitive business information. The CNMC did not specify whether it is targeting a wholesaler cartel or collusive behaviour of marketing authorisation holders that sell directly to pharmacies.
Earlier this week, the Dutch competition authority (ACM) indicated that it had ended its investigation of three unidentified pharmaceutical firms. Back in January 2023, ACM issued requests for information probing for allegedly excessive prices and possible bundling practices (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News and Insights, 25 January 2023). ACM has now reached the conclusion that there are insufficient indications of a possible competition law infringement. At the same time, it urged hospitals, buying groups, pharmaceutical firms and staff employed by such firms to come forward and report possible breaches of the competition rules. ACM specifically mentioned granting exclusionary discounts at the expense of biosimilar or generic rivals, artificially extending exclusive patent rights, or charging excessive medicine prices.