European Commission Launches “Monitoring Exercise” Concerning Pharmaceutical Settlement Agreements

January 13, 2010

As a follow-up to its July 2009 pharmaceutical sector inquiry final report, the European Commission announced on Jan. 12, 2010, that it has sent requests to a number of originator and generic pharmaceutical companies for copies of their patent settlement agreements.

The requests relate to agreements affecting the EU/EEA concluded between July 2008 and December 2009. The commission particularly voiced concerns about settlement agreements in its July 2009 report, and indicated at that time that it would subject such agreements to “further focused monitoring” under competition law. The commission has therefore followed this through.

It is also notable that following the inquiry, the European Commission has launched specific competition law investigations of individual companies, most recently into alleged activities of Lundbeck which the commission is concerned may hinder the entry of generic versions of citalopram into the EEA.

McGuireWoods’ Brussels and London offices advise on all aspects of EU competition law. Full coverage of national competition law throughout Europe is also provided by both offices, as well as through a network of strong relationships with correspondent law firms. We have extensive experience with merger control, cartels, trading agreements and practices, including abuse of dominance and distribution, and state aid. Our lawyers regularly represent clients before the European Commission and national regulators in the EU, across the range of competition law matters.