Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was fined 10.8 million euros ($14.9 million) by European Union regulators over a pact with a Novartis AG unit that hampered the sale of generic versions of pain killer fentanyl in the Netherlands.
Novartis must pay 5.49 million euros, the European Commission said in an e-mailed statement today. The agreement delayed the entry of a cheaper generic medicine for 17 months and kept prices for fentanyl in the Netherlands artificially high, according to the statement.
“The two companies shockingly deprived patients in the Netherlands, including people suffering from cancer, from access to a cheaper version of this medicine,” said Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s antitrust chief. “Today’s decision should make pharmaceutical companies think twice before engaging into such anticompetitive practices, which harm both patients and taxpayers.”
Antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are focusing on how settlements between companies that make branded medicines and generics producers might harm consumers. H. Lundbeck A/S, the Nordic region’s second-largest drugmaker, was fined in June in a probe over delays for generic drugs and Les Laboratoires Servier was sent a statement of objections over so-called pay-to-delay contracts last year.
Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis owns Sandoz, a generic-drug maker.
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