BRUSSELS, March 25 (Reuters) - Danish drugmaker Lundbeck on Thursday lost its fight against a 2013 EU antitrust fine imposed for deals with rivals to delay sales of generic copies of its anti-depressant citalopram after Europe’s top court sided with EU enforcers.
The case is one of several in the European Commission’s decade-long crackdown against pay-for-delay deals which it says hurt competition and hold back innovation.
The EU competition enforcer had imposed a combined fine of 146 million euros ($172 million) on Lundbeck and five generic drugmakers for such deals, prompting the companies to challenge the ruling at the General Court which upheld the EU decision in 2016.
The drugmakers subsequently appealed to the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which on Thursday dismissed all six motions and agreed with the lower tribunal that such deals were aimed at blocking rivals.
“The agreements at issue, which allowed the market entry of manufacturers of generic medicines to be delayed and which were accompanied by payments made by Lundbeck which, by virtue of their size, induced the manufacturers of generic medicines not to continue their efforts to enter the market, belong to that category of practices which are particularly harmful to competition,” CJEU judges said.
The other five generic drugmakers fined by the EU - Merck KGaA, Generics (UK), Arrow Group, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Xellia Pharmaceuticals and Alpharma - also lost their appeals.
The cases are C-586/16 P Sun Pharmaceutical Industries et Ranbaxy (UK) v Commission; C-588/16 P Generics (UK) v Commission; C- 591/16 P Lundbeck v Commission; C-601/16 P Arrow Group & Arrow Generics v Commission; C-611/16 P Xellia Pharmaceuticals and Alpharma v Commission & C-616/16 P Merck v Commission. ($1 = 0.8471 euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee Editing by Keith Weir)