Thursday, 31 January 2013

Pay for delay: EU Comission sends objections to J&J and Novartis

As announced today (here) “The European Commission has informed the pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson (J&J, of the USA) and Novartis (of Switzerland) of its objections regarding an agreement concluded between their respective Dutch subsidiaries on fentanyl, a strong pain-killer. The Commission takes the preliminary view that the agreement delayed the market entry of a cheaper generic medicine in the Netherlands, in breach of EU antitrust rules”.

Described facts are:
"Janssen-Cilag, the J&J subsidiary supplying the pain-killer fentanyl in the Netherlands, concluded a so-called "co-promotion agreement" with its close generic competitor Sandoz, a Novartis subsidiary, in July 2005. At the time there were no regulatory barriers to develop and market generic versions of the fentanyl patches and therefore for Sandoz to enter the Dutch market. The agreement foresaw monthly payments from Janssen-Cilag to Sandoz for as long as no generic product was launched in the Dutch market. Consequently, Sandoz abstained from entering the market with generic fentanyl patches for the duration of the agreement from July 2005 until December 2006. This may have delayed the entry of a cheaper generic medicine for seventeen months and kept prices for fentanyl in the Netherlands artificially high."
According to the Press Release, Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquin Almunia said:
"The Commission is determined to fight undue delays in the market entry of generic medicines so that European citizens have access to affordable healthcare. It is also important to make sure that pharmaceutical companies do not free ride our welfare state and health insurance systems, especially in this period of constraints on public spending"
Time will tell if this commitment is effective or just a political speech. I’m afraid these words will mostly go with the wind.

1 comment:

Suleman said...

I disagree with the writer's slightly negative comment at the end about this issue not being tackled properly. With pay-for-delay deals being looked at at Supreme Court level in the US, I think there's momentum on the issue which will force Europe to do something about it.