On 28 January 2019, the European Commission (Commission) published its Report to the Council and the European Parliament on Competition Enforcement in the pharmaceutical Sector (2009-2017) (Report). This takes stock of all the pharma cases that the Commission has pursued at EU level and that national competition authorities have investigated over the past 10 years. It responds to recent concerns raised by the Council and European Parliament that anti-competitive practices of pharmaceutical companies may prevent patients’ access to affordable and innovative medicines.
In parallel, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been very active in investigating the pharma sector and currently has some eight ongoing investigations. Some of these investigations are being narrowed but the overall mood music is that authorities regard pharma cases a high priority. This trend is likely to continue for some time yet.
The key takeaways are (i) pharma cases are likely to continue to be of interest to competition authorities (ii) entry restrictions, high price strategies and loss of exclusivity are key areas of concern together with, going forward, the entry of biosimilar competition.