Mexico mulls more pharma antitrust probes

Mexican regulators could be on the verge of a pharma push. On the heels of fines levied on drugmakers accused of colluding to raise prices, the country's top antitrust official said that new probes could be on their way. "We're continuing to look into doing more investigations," Mexico's Federal Competition Commission Chief Eduardo Perez Motta tells Reuters. "I can't give more details about them, but there could be more."

In February, the competition commission fined Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), Baxter International (NYSE: BAX) and Fresenius Kabi for working together to boost prices on government contracts for IV drugs. According to the commission, the drugmakers took turns bidding on government tenders for insulin. By eliminating competition, the arrangement artificially inflated prices.

If Perez Motta has his way now, new--and perhaps higher--fines will result. Apparently he considers the $1.7 million maximum fines imposed on Lilly, Baxter and Fresenius to be a paltry deterrent. "The sanctions in the case of these businesses are small sanctions because the law doesn't permit us to impose bigger sanctions," Perez Motta says.

But the Mexican Senate is considering antitrust reforms that would jack up penalties significantly. If lawmakers approve the measure, fines could grow to 10 percent of a company's annual Mexican revenues. 

- read the Reuters news