Bayer, others fined $15.9M by Romanian competition authority

The Romanian Competition Council has wrapped up an ongoing investigation into alleged antitrust practices by Bayer ($BAY), Sintofarm and 9 distributors. The result: a combined €12 million in fines the companies must pay.

The two drugmakers and their distributors--Mediplus, Polisano, Relad, Farmexim, Farmexpert, Fildas, Montero, ADM and Pharmafarm--were sanctioned for agreements to prohibit export of Bayer and Sintofarm products. The fines come after an investigation opened by the council in 2009.

Although Bayer is perhaps the best known of the companies, it's not facing the biggest fine. That distinction belongs to distributor Mediplus, which must pay about €2.7 million ($3.5 million). Bayer will have to cough up about $2.1 million. Meanwhile, Sintofarm will only have to pay about $19,000.

The council also announced it has finalized a 3 1/2-year investigation into members of the Medicine Distributors and Importers Association and the Medicine Distributors Association of Romania for possibly violating the competition law. However, no fines were imposed in this case.

The investigation followed a decision by the companies to stop supplying hospitals and pharmacies because of the Ministry of Health's refusal to adjust the price of medicines depending on foreign exchange rates. The ministry has since updated its exchange rate, but the council says it will continue to monitor the companies that are members of these associations.

- see the Competition Council's release