On 21 September 2017, Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe delivered his Opinion in Case C-179/16 Hoffmann-La Roche, finding that licensed and unlicensed medicinal products used for the same indication may fall within the same relevant product market.
Genentech’s drugs Avastin (which is licensed to Roche) and Lucentis (licensed to Novartis) are based on different active substances but are derived from the same antibody and have similar mechanisms of action. Avastin obtained marketing authorisation first, for treatment of certain types of cancer and Lucentis later obtained marketing authorisation for treatment of certain ophthalmologic conditions. However, during the interval between grant of the two marketing authorisations, a number of medical practitioners used Avastin in smaller doses to treat ophthalmologic conditions. Furthermore some practitioners have continued to use Avastin even after grant of marketing authorisation for Lucentis because of the substantially lower treatment cost of Avastin.