European Commission welcomes European Court of Justice decision on parallel trade in the pharmaceutical sector

The European Commission welcomes the ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the supply quotas for pharmaceuticals on the Greek wholesale market (Joined Cases C-468/06, C-469/06, C-470/06, C-471/06, C-472/06, C-473/06, C-474/06, C-475/06, C-476/06, C-477/06, C-478/06 Sot. Lélos kai Sia). The ECJ decided that a dominant company’s refusal to supply wholesalers with a view to impeding parallel trade constitutes an abuse of a dominant market position under Article 82 of the EC Treaty unless it is justified by objective reasons. The Court confirmed that differences in national price regulations are in themselves not a sufficient justification and that control exercised by Member States over the selling prices or the reimbursement of medicines does not entirely remove the prices of those products from the law of supply and demand. The ruling confirms the European Commission’s antitrust policy, namely that the protection of parallel trade in the pharmaceutical sector is within the scope of EC competition law. [European Commission Memo]