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EU Ends Boehringer Probe, Flags Fewer Problem Drug-Patent Deals

July 6 (Bloomberg) -- European Union regulators dropped an antitrust probe over Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH’s patents for lung-disease drugs, as they reported fewer “problematic” pay-to-delay deals between drugmakers.

The closely held German drugmaker agreed to remove “blocking positions” that Spanish rival Almirall SA complained prevented sales of its treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the Brussels-based European Commission said today in a statement.

Separately, the EU’s antitrust agency said pharmaceutical companies last year struck only three “problematic” patent-settlement deals that may be used to delay the sale of generic versions of medicines.

Antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are focusing on how settlements between companies that make branded medicines and generic producers might harm consumers. The EU in January ordered several pharmaceutical firms, including Bayer AG, to submit details of patent-settlement deals from last year.

Boehringer, based in Ingelheim, Germany, didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment on today’s decision.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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