Servier Under EC Scrutiny for Anticompetitive Behavior

July 29, 2010
Stephanie Sutton
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

French pharma giant Les Laboratoires Servier SA has been accused of providing "misleading" and "incorrect" information during the EC's antitrust investigation.

French pharmaceutical giant Les Laboratoires Servier (Neuilly-Sur-Seine, France) was accused of providing “misleading” and “incorrect” information during the European Commission's (EC) antitrust investigation. If Servier did indeed intentionally or negligently provide such information, the company could face a fine worth 1% of its total turnover for the preceding business year.

The EC’s competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector was concluded in July 2009. During this time, several questionnaires were sent out to industry stakeholders and pharmaceutical companies, including Servier. After further investigating the company’s reply, the EC took "the preliminary view that this reply included information which appears to be misleading and incorrect,” according to a press statement. The EC sent a Statement of Objections to the company, but it added that this step would “not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.”

In addition to this new development, Servier was already under EC scrutiny for suspected breaches of restrictive business practices and abuse of a dominant market position. In particular, the company is accused of forming agreements with generic-drug companies that may have delayed the market entry of cheaper versions of its heart-disease drug, perindopril.

Earlier this month, the EC explained that the number of “potentially problematic” patent settlements in the pharmaceutical sector had fallen to 10% during July 2008–December 2009, compared with more than 20% in the period covered by the competition inquiry (January 2000–June 2008).

"Patent settlements are an effective means to end patent-related disputes and litigation. Nobody disputes this. However, some of them may be anticompetitive,” Joaquín Almunia, the EC's vice-president in charge of competition policy, said in a press statement. “Our report appears to show the sector's increased awareness of the potential competition concerns, but the Commission will remain attentive to ensure that the sale of safe, affordable medicines is not delayed by unfair practices.”