The European Commission has published its preliminary report on the competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector, which finds that competition in this industry does not work as well as it should. According to the preliminary findings there is evidence that originator companies have engaged in practices with the objective of delaying or blocking market entry of competing medicines. Practices vis-à-vis generic companies include multiple patent applications for the same medicine (so-called patent clusters), initiation of disputes and litigation, conclusion of patent settlements which constrain market entry of generic companies and interventions before national authorities when generic companies ask for regulatory approvals. Where successful, these practices result in significant additional costs for public health budgets - and ultimately taxpayers and patients - and reduce incentives to innovate. The report takes a sample of medicines that faced loss of exclusivity in the period 2000 to 2007 in 17 Member States and estimates that additional savings of around 3 billion Euros would have been possible on that sample over this period if generic medicines had entered the market without delay. The report also finds that companies applied defensive patenting strategies, primarily aimed at blocking competitors in the development of new medicines.
On 28 November 2008 Neelie Kroes, Member of the EC in charge of Competition, opened a conference on Europe's pharmaceutical industry, where she presented the results of the preliminary report. She said at the conference that the Commission would not hesitate to initiate investigations where there are indications that the antitrust rules may have been bridged.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior view of the Charlemagne Commission building
||General views of the conference (2 shots)
||Neelie Kroes, Member of the EC in charge of Competition, (in ENGLISH) saying that originator companies have designed and implemented strategies aimed at hindering their competitors and thereby ensuring continued revenue streams for their medicines; the preliminary report refers to such strategies as a tool box; the successful implementation of these strategies contributes to the delaying or the blocking of generic entry
||Neelie Kroes (in ENGLISH) on what it really could be saving if the system worked optimally and properly; saying that for every day it does not work optimally; it is every one of us who is paying the bill, both as taxpayer and as patient; she is not saying that those delays are exclusively attributable to originator companies; they contribute however and that is a concern; the report finds much more than a simple problem between originators and generics; the Commission's findings suggest that originator companies have also developed strategies to block the development of new products by other originator companies
||Neelie Kroes (in ENGLISH) saying that it is early days but the Commission will not hesitate to initiate investigations where they are indications that the antitrust rules may have been bridged; the Commission's preliminary report shows that they have picked up the trail and now they are following the lead
||Cutaways (4 shots)