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GlaxoSmithKline Antitrust Probe Dropped by EU Commission

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March 2 (Bloomberg) -- The European Commission said it ended an antitrust probe into GlaxoSmithKline Plc over possible collusion to keep cheaper copies of medicines off the market after a complaint against the company was withdrawn.

“The Commission examined whether there may have been violation of EU competition law by GlaxoSmithKline,” Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the regulator, said in an e-mail. The case involving generic-drug producer Synthon BV concerned “possible anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices in order to delay or exclude generic competition,” he said. Colombani declined to elaborate on Synthon’s role in the probe.

The announcement comes a day after European Union regulators dropped a similar probe into AstraZeneca Plc, the U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s Nycomed unit over possible collusion to keep cheaper copies of medicines off the market. That case was brought to a halt because of a lack of evidence.

Antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are focusing on how settlements between companies that make branded medicines and generic-drug producers might harm consumers. The EU opened a probe into Johnson & Johnson and Novartis AG in October and is also investigating Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and its Cephalon Inc. unit over possible efforts to hinder generic drugs.

Glaxo didn’t respond to a voicemail message and Synthon, based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Luxembourg via Awhite62@bloomberg.net

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

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