Extracts from the press conference by Joaquín Almunia on Antitrust decisions in the pharmaceutical sector
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 25/07/2012 First transmission: 25/07/2012
On 25 July 2012, Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition, gave a press conference at the European Commission in Brussels.
On this occasion, he announced that, following a competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector of 2008/2009, the European Commission has issued a statement of objections against Lundbeck and other pharmaceutical companies in a major investigation concerning an antidepressant.
At the same time, the European Commission's third report on its monitoring of patent settlements in the pharmaceutical sector confirmed that, while the overall number of concluded settlements has significantly increased, the proportion of settlements that may be problematic for competition has fallen by half as compared to the levels observed at the time of the sector inquiry.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General view of the press conference on Antitrust decisions in the pharmaceutical sector, in presence of Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition, at the European Commission in Brussels
||Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): The European Commission has issued a statement of objections against Lundbeck and will send in a few days another one against another company Les Laboratoires Servier. In each of these investigations, the Commission has reached the preliminary conclusion that these companies may have restricted competition by preventing the entry of generic versions of two medicines; one antidepressant (Citalopram in the case of Lundbeck) and one cardio-vascular medicine (Perindopril in the case of Les Laboratoires Servier). The two statements of objections are also addressed to generic competitors who concluded agreements with these two companies. In both cases, the European Commission's preliminary conclusion is that payments from the originator companies (Lundbeck and Servier) to the generic companies have prevented market entry of the generic medicines. If confirmed, this behaviour may have caused substantial harm to the users of these medicines.
||Cutaway of press
||Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): The Commission carried out an inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector in 2009. This inquiry has showed that there are significant competition issues in the pharmaceutical industry, in particular in certain business practices that delay the market entry of cheaper medicines, the generic medicines. This is a sector in which the European Commission is working very hard to avoid any breach of competition rules. The European citizens need to be able to access quality health care at affordable prices. In particular, in this period of significant constraints on public spending, private companies cannot be allowed to free ride our welfare state and health insurance systems. Protecting intellectual property is key to preserve incentives to innovate. But it should not be abused to deprive citizens and tax-payers of the benefits of cheaper medicines. Beyond these two cases and some others that are currently under investigation, the European Commission will remain vigilant about patent settlement agreements between originators and generic companies. More generally, the latest inquiry in this sector shows a decline in the number of settlements considered as potentially problematic. The European Commission must continue to monitor the sector to keep the rules of the game implemented and will continue to do so.
||General view of the audience