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EU imposes first cartel fines in pharma sector
Pic: European Commission

20 Oct 2023 / eu Print

EU imposes first cartel fines in pharma sector

The European Commission has imposed sanctions on a cartel in the pharmaceutical sector for the first time.

It has fined five companies a total of €13.4 million for taking part in a cartel related to SNBB, an important ingredient in the abdominal anti-spasmodic drug Buscopan.

The five firms fined were Alkaloids of Australia, Alkaloids Corporation, Boehringer, Linnea and Transo-Pharm.

A sixth company, C2 PHARMA, escaped the fines as it revealed the cartel to the commission.

Sensitive information

All six companies, which either produce or distribute SNBB, admitted their involvement in the cartel and agreed to settle the case.

The EU body said that its investigation had revealed that the six companies co-ordinated and agreed to fix the minimum sales price of SNBB to customers, and to allocate quotas. In addition, the companies exchanged commercially sensitive information.

The commission stated that there had been “a single and continuous infringement” in the European Economic Area (EEA) from 1 November 2005 to 17 September 2019.

The EU body said that it had also opened proceedings against a seventh company, Alchem, which decided not to settle. It is continuing its probe into this company.

'Competition essential'

“Today we impose a fine on companies for illegally co-ordinating prices and allocating quotas for an active pharmaceutical ingredient used to produce widely prescribed drugs,” said Didier Reynders, the commissioner in charge of competition policy (pictured).

“This is our first cartel decision in such an important sector, where competition is essential to provide access to affordable medicines,” he added.

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