EU court rules against pharma on generic-switching rewards

Drugmakers have lost the fight to stave off new generic-switching incentives in the U.K. The European Court of Justice ruled that, contrary to the pharma industry's claims, the incentive plan doesn't violate rules on drug promotion.

The U.K. has launched new rewards for medical practices that switch their patients from branded meds to cheaper generics. The rewards also apply to new scrips if a physican passes over a branded drug in favor of a copycat. The incentives aren't paid directly to individual doctors, but could filter out to physicians who share in the profits of their practices, Reuters reports.

And that's where the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry objected. Because individuals could benefit from the rewards, then the incentive plan violates an E.U. ban on financial incentives for prescriptions, the industry argued. That's the legal argument, anyway; drugmakers didn't like the whole arrangement, given that it stands to divert funds away from their branded products.

Unfortunately for pharma, the E.U. court didn't agree. The ban on financial incentives doesn't apply to public health authorities that are charged with controlling national expenditures on drugs, the court decided.

- read the Reuters story