[Ip-health] July 2015: WTO documents antitrust actions in Italy and France - WTO Trade Policy Review - European Union

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Jul 22 01:52:48 PDT 2015


On 6 July 2015 and 8 July 2015, the World Trade Organization (WTO)
conducted a trade policy review of the European Union. All members of
the WTO are subject to review under the Trade Policy Review Mechanism
(TPRM). As noted by the WTO secretariat, the "basis for the review is
a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of the
European Union" (Source:Trade Policy Review - European Union, July

The report by the WTO secretariat (WT/TPR/G/317) provides 212 pages of
detailed information on the European Union's economic environment,
trade and investment regime and trade policies and practices


In relation to antitrust actions against pharmaceutical firms, the WTO
secretariat report provided national examples from Italy and France:

3.179. For example, on 27 February 2014, the Italian competition
authority fined Roche and Novartis over €180 million for cartelizing
the sales of two major ophthalmic drugs. The companies were found to
have colluded to exclude the cheaper medicine (Avastin), used in the
treatment of the most common eyesight condition in the elderly as well
as other serious sight problems, and channelling demand towards the
more expensive drug (Lucentis), through an artificial distinction
between the two products. The anti-competitive agreement was found to
cause the Italian National Health Service to sustain additional
expenses estimated at over €45 million in 2012.

3.180. The French competition agency has also investigated practices
aimed at delaying the development of cheaper medicines. For example,
on 14 May 2013, it fined Sanofi-Aventis a total of €40.6 million for
implementing a denigration strategy. This strategy was aimed at
limiting entry into the market of generic versions of Plavix in favour
of Sanofi Aventis' products, i.e. the originator Plavix medicine and
its generic version marketed by Sanofi-Aventis, Clopidogrel Winthrop.
The company was found to have implemented a global and structured
communication strategy, aimed at stopping the generic substitution
process at two key stages: at the prescription stage, by convincing
doctors to insert the indication “non-substitutable” to the
prescriptions, so as to limit the substitution of Plavix by a generic
medicine; and at the substitution stage itself, by encouraging
pharmacists to substitute Plavix by Clopidogrel Winthrop, to the
detriment of other generic competitors.

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