EU targets Big Pharma firms

Megan Williams Jan 17, 2008


Scott Jagow: In Europe, regulators are looking at some possible antitrust shenanigans by drug companies. The offices of some very well-known drug makers were actually raided yesterday. Megan Williams has more.

Megan Williams: The EU thinks some drug companies have been blocking generic alternatives from getting to customers. That’s why inspectors made surprise visits this week to companies like Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck.

What raised suspicions is evidence fewer new drugs now enter the European market, and cheaper generic drugs are frequently delayed.

Greg Perry of the European Generic Medicines Association says delays are often caused by frivolous lawsuits by drug giants, or abuse of patent rights.

Greg Perry: They develop so-called “new” products, which are little more than slight chemical changes to a product, and market them as new products simply with the intention of preventing generic competition.

Perry says the probe shows the EU is gaining confidence in safeguarding competition in the area of intellectual property. Drug companies aren’t commenting.

I’m Megan Williams for Marketplace.

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