EU confirms raids on pharma firms in generic medicines probe
Dec 3, 2010, 10:22 GMT
Brussels - The European Union on Friday confirmed that it had launched raids on pharmaceutical companies in Europe, suspecting them of colluding to keep cheap 'generic' medicine off the market.
The European Commission, the EU's executive, has long said that it suspects pharma firms of sidestepping the bloc's strict competition rules, and has launched a string of investigations.
On Friday the commission confirmed in a statement that officials 'carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of a limited number of companies active in the pharmaceutical sector in several member states.'
The raids were carried out on Tuesday.
'The commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have acted individually or jointly, notably to delay generic entry for a particular medicine,' the statement said.
The investigation centres on the suspicion that companies which have developed and patented drugs may have paid off rivals who produce the same drugs once the patent runs out - the 'generic', un-patented form - to delay launching their products.
That would keep prices artificially high, and could count as a breach of EU rules.
However, the commission stressed that the launching of raids did not mean that the companies involved were guilty. It did not name the firms which were targeted.
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