EC drops antitrust probe aimed at GSK

European antitrust police are dropping another pharmaceutical probe. This time, the European Commission's competition regulator has stopped an investigation into GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Reuters reports. Officials had been looking into allegations that GSK blocked generic competition for its drugs.

"The Commission examined whether there may have been violation of EU competition law by GlaxoSmithKline," it said (as quoted by Reuters), adding that the probe focused on any "anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices in order to delay or exclude generic competition."

Apparently, regulators were acting on the basis of a complaint from Synthon, a U.S. company that had lodged the allegations. Synthon withdrew its complaint, the EC said, and antitrust officials were satisfied GSK hadn't broken the rules. Last week, the antitrust group dropped an investigation into AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Nycomed, saying it didn't find evidence of illegal generic-blocking deals.

EC regulators have been probing potential antitrust violations in the pharma industry for some time now. They've raided several drugmakers' offices, looking for evidence of "pay-for-delay" deals that keep copycat drugs off the market, delaying competition and costing government health programs money. Their U.S. counterpart, the Federal Trade Commission, has also been going after drug companies, saying that some patent settlements are artificially delaying the launch of copycat meds, pushing up government drug spending by billions of dollars.

- read the Reuters news