European Commission to investigate patent settlements again

Generics/General | Posted 04/03/2011 post-comment0 Post your comment

The European Commission (EC) has once again requested information from pharmaceutical companies regarding patent settlement agreements concluded in the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2010 between originator and generic companies.


The Commission’s original competition inquiry in the pharmaceutical sector showed that certain patent settlements may cause consumer harm because they delay the market entry of cheaper generic medicines.

The first monitoring exercise in 2010 found that the number of patent settlements in the pharmaceutical sector that are ‘potentially problematic’ under the EU antitrust rules fell to 10% of total patent settlements in the sector in the period July 2008 to December 2009 compared with 22% in the period January 2000 to June 2008.

“Patent settlements are an area of particular concern because they may delay the market entry of generic medicines. The outcome of our first monitoring exercise showed that potentially problematic agreements had decreased significantly since the Commission’s sector inquiry,” said Mr Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy. “The 2011 monitoring exercise is important to assess whether this positive trend is confirmed and to identify potentially problematic patent settlements.”

The EC has asked a selected number of originator and generic companies to submit a copy of all patent settlement agreements relevant for the EU/EEA markets concluded during 2010.

The EC will analyse the agreements and publish a new report in the first half of 2011. If a specific settlement raises additional questions, a more targeted request for information could follow.

Related article

European Commission welcomes reduction in ‘potentially problematic’ patent settlements

Source: European Commission

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