Italian Competition Authority market tests Pfizer’s commitments to close investigation into alleged abuse of dominance case

On 16 May 2011, the Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”) published the proposed commitments offered by Pfizer to close the investigation into its alleged breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) relating to latanoprost, an active ingredient for treating visual glaucoma.

According to the ICA, Pfizer acted to prolong its patent protection for latanoprost by employing strategies to obstruct or delay the introduction of generic drugs competing with Xalatan, Pfizer’s branded product for the treatment of visual glaucoma, into the Italian market (see Newsletter 6/2010 p. 8 for background information).

In particular, depending on the comments received by third parties, the ICA will make the following commitments binding on Pfizer:

  • Pfizer will commit to grant a royalty-free license concerning its divisional patent covering latanoprost in Italy and will also refrain from seeking further patent protection thereby allowing for the immediate opening/liberalization of the Italian market;
  • Pfizer will drop any legal action against generics manufacturers; and
  • Pfizer will publish on its website information regarding medicines containing the same active ingredient so that consumers and doctors will be able to choose among similar products.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint lodged by Ratiopharm, a German generics producer. [Gabriele Accardo]