Three years after receiving a €331 million ($373 million) fine from European antitrust authorities over a pay-for-delay deal on the blood pressure drug perindopril, Servier is fighting in a European court hearing to cut its punishment.
During the first of a four-day hearing on the case, an attorney for Servier argued that competition commissioners were biased in their review and committed legal and procedural mistakes, according to Reuters.
Back in 2014, European authorities handed out €427.7 million ($482 million) in fines to six companies over pay-for-delay arrangements on the Servier bestseller that delayed competition and hurt consumers. Servier took the biggest hit at €331 million, while Mylan, Teva, Lupin, Krka and Unichem were also involved.
At the time of the fine, authorities said the companies conducted numerous deals to protect perindopril from generic competition. A lawyer for the government maintained this week that the reviewers looked at the case in a “neutral manner,” according to the news service.
Servier’s hearing comes shortly after the EU’s competition authority announced a probe into cancer drug pricing from South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare. In that effort, the government is hoping to learn whether Aspen “abused a dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules.”
In the U.K., competition watchdogs recently fined Pfizer a record $108 million for a 2,600% price hike on phenytoin sodium. Pfizer denied the allegations and said it will appeal.
Authorities in the country have also taken on Actavis in recent months for alleged “excessive and unfair pricing” on hydrocortisone tablets and, in a separate case, for alleged “illegal” deals with Concordia Healthcare on the same med to delay competition.
In another European pharma antitrust case from 2014, authorities investigated whether Roche and Novartis attempted to push doctors to pricey Lucentis over a cheaper rival, Avastin. In that case, the Italian government levied fines of more than $250 million. The drugmakers are appealing, according to PharmExec.