UPDATED: McKesson's German unit raided in price collusion probe

McKesson’s big move into international markets hit a snag Thursday when German antitrust regulators raided one of its operations, along with 8 other wholesalers, as part of a probe into whether drug distributors have colluded on prices.  

Germany’s Cartel Office authorities confirmed the raid to Reuters but refused to say what companies had been targeted. In a written statement, German distributor Gehe confirmed to the news service that its offices were searched and that the company was cooperating with antitrust authorities there. A McKesson spokeswoman Monday confirmed the "visit" to FiercePharmaManufacturing  but declined to comment further. According to Germany’s Handelsblatt, 5 companies dominate the €29-billion market.

McKesson picked up Gehe in its 2014, $5.4 billion deal for EU drug wholesaler Celesio. It acquired Celesio, which has operations in about 16 EU countries in its initial step to move into international markets. Since then, San Francisco-based McKesson has added other international operations.

While never accused of colluding with other players, McKesson ($MCK) has been accused of taking advantage of situations to manipulate prices. Several years ago, it paid more than $355 million to settle state and federal litigation that accused the wholesaler of reporting prices in such a way that allowed for higher wholesale prices. McKesson never acknowledged that it did anything wrong, saying that it settled the cases to avoid the “uncertainty of litigation.”

The raid on McKesson is the second action tied to alleged “anti-competitive” practices in a week. The top court of the European Commission last week upheld €146 million ($164 million) in fines against Denmark’s Lundbeck and 5 drugmakers that participated in pay-for-delay deals some years back. The EU fined Lundbeck and others in 2013 for working out agreements to delay copies of the blockbuster antidepressant Celexa, adding millions of euros to what consumers and governments health programs paid for the drug.

- read the Reuters story

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