EU antitrust regulators are digging deeper in their drugmaker probe. They've asked pharma companies for a "selected number" of patent deals between branded drugmakers and the generics firms trying to knock off their products.
Specifically, regulators are looking at patent settlements made from July 2008 through the end of 2009, especially those that involve so-called "pay-for-delay" arrangements, when a brand maker offers a generics firm a cash settlement "in return for delayed market entry," the European Commission says in a statement.
Antitrust types are looking at generic settlements to determine whether drugmakers have been misusing their patent rights to forestall generic competition, or are otherwise interfering with the sale of copycat meds. Regulators have shown up at the offices of many drug companies, branded and generic, including the likes of GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis' Sandoz unit, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and most recently, Denmark's Lundbeck. Officials say they want to make sure that European governments aren't spending money on branded drugs when copycat versions ought to be made available.