EC conducts surprise antitrust inspections

October 9, 2009
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

The EC has been knocking on the doors of pharmaceutical companies to conduct surprise inspections; the agency will be looking specifically for signs of anticompetitive behaviour.

The EC has been knocking on the doors of pharmaceutical companies to conduct surprise inspections; the agency will be looking specifically for signs of anticompetitive behaviour. A memo released by the EC said: "The EC has reason to believe that the provisions of the EC Treaty prohibiting restrictive business practices and/or abuse of a dominant market position (Articles 81 and 82) may have been infringed."

The EC has been watching the pharma industry for signs of anticompetitive behaviour for more than a year. In January 2008, the EC launched a sector enquiry after a significant decline in FDA drug approvals; in particular there was concern that large pharma companies were blocking market entry of generic products. This fear was confirmed in a final report released in July 2009. In response, the EC said it would intensify its scrutiny of the pharma sector and monitor settlements between originator and generic drug companies.

The latest inspections, which were conducted on 6 October, are the first step in the investigations and the EC has stressed that such inspections do "not mean that the companies are guilty".

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