Servier Charged With Misleading EU Antitrust Probe on Generic Drug Market

Les Laboratoires Servier, France’s second-largest drugmaker, was charged with misleading a European Union probe into potential antitrust violations by companies seeking to keep cheaper generic medicine out of the EU market.

Servier could face a fine of as much as 1 percent of its annual revenue if the European Commission, antitrust agency for the 27 EU nations, concludes the French company “intentionally or negligently” submitted incorrect data.

“The commission’s provisional view is that it has evidence that Servier has provided misleading and incorrect information,” the regulator said today in an e-mailed statement.

The commission, based in Brussels, started a probe of the pharmaceutical industry in January 2008. In a report last year, it found that companies use a variety of techniques to delay the introduction of generics “for as long as possible.”

Servier “will fully cooperate” with the commission, the Neuilly-sur-Seine, France-based company said in an e-mailed statement, confirming it got the charge sheet today.

“Getting such a communication doesn’t prejudge the final outcome,” the company said in the statement.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world’s biggest generic-drug maker, Denmark’s H. Lundbeck A/S and other pharmaceutical companies were raided last December as part of the ongoing probe. The December raids were the third in a series by the commission, which had previously raided Servier’s offices in November 2008.

AstraZeneca Plc earlier this month lost a court challenge to an EU decision finding it had misled patent officials and abused its dominant position by hindering the marketing of generic versions of its Prilosec heartburn medicine.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Brussels via

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