Commission report in the pharma sector

European Union
New European Commission report on competition law enforcement in the pharmaceutical sector 
Commission report in the pharma sector
February 15, 2024

In early 2024, the European Commission published a report on trends and developments in competition law enforcement, both at European level and the individual Member States, with specific focus on the pharmaceutical sector.

In the 2018-2022 period, European competition authorities carried out over 90 investigations in the sector, 30 of which are still ongoing.

Among the types of anticompetitive behavior investigated, abuse of dominance predominates, representing 50% of the cases, followed by cartel cases (31%), vertical restraints (11%) and other horizontal agreements restrictive of competition (8%). These actions have resulted in over 780 million euros in sanctions.

The behaviors investigated and sanctioned cover a wide range of anti-competitive practices, including abuses of the patent system and abusive litigation, excessive pricing, pay-for-delay agreements with generic companies or defamation of competing products.

The report highlights that the intervention rate in the pharmaceutical sector was 17% (prohibited or conditional operators over the total number of notified merger transactions), while the average rate for all sectors was around 5% in the period analyzed.

Overall, the report reveals that the Commission is increasing its activity in this sector to protect drug innovation (R&D) and to ensure equitable access to medicines.

According to the report, Spain ranks fifth among the countries with the highest number of fines for antitrust infringements.

February 15, 2024