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ASTRAZENCA RAIDED BY EUROPEAN ANTITRUST OFFICIALS
Friday, 3rd December
AstraZeneca Plc, the U.K.’s second- biggest drugmaker, and Nycomed A/S were raided by European Union antitrust officials as part of a probe into whether companies colluded to keep cheaper copies of medicines off the market.
The European Commission said it raided the premises of “a limited number of” pharmaceutical companies that may have slowed the sale of generic medicines. AstraZeneca said inspections at its premises concerned the ulcer drug Nexium.
“We have the responsibility to ensure that consumers are not charged unjustified bills for their medical needs,” said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, in the text of a speech in Brussels today. “I will continue to enforce with determination competition rules in the pharmaceutical sector.”
Antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are focusing on how settlements between branded-drug makers and generic manufacturers might harm consumers. Makers of generics are vying for a share of the ulcer-treatment market after AstraZeneca lost European patent protection on Nexium sales in March. The pill had sales of $912 million in western Europe, out of a worldwide total of $3.74 billion, in the first nine months of this year.
The commission “has reason to believe” that the companies “may have acted individually or jointly, notably to delay generic entry for a particular medicine,” the EU executive, which declined to name the drugmakers, said in an e-mailed statement today. “This could be a potential violation of EU antitrust rules.” The raids took place Nov. 30, it said.
Full story, here