Commission investigates alleged anticompetitive practices hindering entry onto the market of a generic cardio-vascular medicine

On 8 July 2009, the European Commission announced the opening of a formal investigation into suspected breaches of Article 81 and Article 82 of the EC Treaty by Les Laboratoires Servier and a number of generic pharmaceutical companies.

The Commission is investigating Les Laboratoires Servier’s alleged abuse of a dominant position and a number of agreements between that company and various generics companies. It is concerned that Les Laboratoires Servier’s conduct and these agreements may have had the object or effect of hindering entry onto the market of a generic cardio-vascular medicine originally developed by Les Laboratoires Servier.

The investigation in the present case is not, strictly speaking, related to the pharmaceutical sector inspections the Commission carried out in January 2008 nor to the pharmaceutical sector enquiry the result of which were published also on 8 July 2009.  However, in seeking to improve the Commission’s knowledge of a sector, sector inquiries are “upstream” of any antitrust proceedings in specific cases, which may or may not follow.

The investigation follows a number of unannounced inspections, also know as “dawn raids”, carried out in November 2008 by the Commission with the co-operation of the national competition authorities of several EU Member States. [Gabriele Accardo]