Extracts from the presentation by Meglena Kuneva of the preliminary report on pharmaceutical sector inquiry

Type: Report   Reference: I-059780   Duration: 11:25:56  Lieu:
End production: 28/11/2008   First transmission: 28/11/2008
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, Meglena Kuneva, Member of the EC in charge of Consumer Protection, addressed the conference on the Commission's competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector. She told the audience that one of the reasons which pushed the Commission to carry out an inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector was the need to verify whether there were barriers depriving consumers from access to affordable and innovative licences. She added that there were signals that companies' behaviour as well as possible shortcomings in the regulatory system may have been preventing consumers from fully enjoying the benefits of scientific research and innovation. She concluded that it would always be a struggle to find the right balance between the protection of intellectual property and the demand to make knowledge and innovative products available and affordable, but that the patent of intellectual property regime would be more easily enforced if it was fair and efficient, and produced a well-functioning market that delivers.

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TIME DESCRIPTION DURATION
11:22:40 Title 00:00:04
11:22:45 General view of the conference 00:00:05
11:22:50 Meglena Kuneva, Member of the EC in charge of Consumer Protection, (in ENGLISH) saying that consumers in the pharmaceutical sectors are exposed to certain vulnerabilities; for individuals who are ill, access to medicines is a priority; both governments and individuals are submitted to pressure to pay for that access and individuals themselves will go at great length to purchase the medicines they need; this understandable willingness to pay must not be abused 00:00:31
11:23:21 Cutaway 00:00:05
11:23:26 Meglena Kuneva (in ENGLISH) saying that innovation in the pharmaceutical field has brought new treatments that are highly valued by consumers; one of the reasons which pushed the Commission to carry out an inquiry in the pharmaceutical sector was the need to verify whether there were barriers depriving consumers from access to affordable and innovative medicines; there were signals that companies' behaviour as well as possible shortcomings in the regulatory system may have been preventing consumers from fully enjoying the benefits of scientific research and innovation 00:00:41
11:24:07 Cutaway 00:00:04
11:24:11 Meglena Kuneva (in ENGLISH) saying that in order to foster innovation there must be some guarantees that the innovating firm can get adequate returns from its investment; this is why we have patents and intellectual property rights; but the purpose of patents is to incentivise innovation and not to create monopolies; monopolies do not work for consumers in a market; they do not tend to produce good prices and are normally not at all innovative as the incentives to innovate disappear 00:00:37
11:24:48 Cutaway 00:00:04
11:24:52 Meglena Kuneva (in ENGLISH) saying that the sector inquiry seems to point to a misuse of the patenting system in order to prevent cheaper generic drugs from hitting the market as soon as they could; it seems that innovation on branded products may also have been hindered by excessive and inadequate patenting; excessive and inadequate patents deprive consumers of the benefits of immediate competition in order to give them the potentially great benefit of innovation and choice 00:00:36
11:25:28 Cutaway 00:00:04
11:25:32 Meglena Kuneva (in ENGLISH) saying that it will always be a struggle to find the right balance between the protection of intellectual property and the demand to make knowledge and innovative products available and affordable; but the patent of intellectual property regime will be more easily enforced if it is fair and efficient, and produces a well-functioning market that delivers 00:00:24
11:25:56 Cutaways (2 shots) 00:00:15
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