Sanofi, Sandoz among firms in antitrust raid

As we went to press yesterday, word was just emerging about the European Commission's round of raids on pharma companies. Today, we have some news about just which drugmakers got surprise visits from antitrust watchdogs. According to press reports and company statements, regulators visited Sanofi-Aventis, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the Novartis generics unit Sandoz, and Ranbaxy Laboratories.

This is the third wave of surprise inspections in a broad probe of the pharma industry's competitive practices. In July, after the first two rounds, the E.C. reported that drugmakers have used a variety of techniques to keep generic competition off the market as long as possible. The commission is investigating whether those efforts violate antitrust rules.

The commission has focused on "pay-for-delay" deals, in which branded drugmakers and generics firms settle patent litigation in ways that keep copycat meds off the market. So far the E.C. hasn't taken action against any companies, but if it does, antitrust violations could lead to large fines, Reuters reports.

- get the Bloomberg story
- check out the article in The Guardian
- see the Reuters news
- read the Financial Times coverage