EU probes Teva, Cephalon deal on Provigil generic

Europe's antitrust regulators are at it again. In the midst of a years-long investigation into patent settlements between branded and generic drugmakers, they are now probing a particular deal between Cephalon and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. At issue is whether their patent settlement on the Provigil wakefulness drug was illegal under competition law.

The two companies settled patent litigation in December 2005 in both the U.S. and the UK. As part of that settlement, Teva agreed not to sell its copycat version of Provigil in European markets before October 2012, Pharmalot reports. The Federal Trade Commission has already disputed this patent settlement; the agency sued over the deal in 2008, alleging antitrust violations.

Now, the European Commission has announced its own probe, saying that the agreement between Cephalon and Teva "may have had the object of hindering the entry of generic modafinil (Provigil)," Reuters reports.

Regulators on both sides of the pond have been probing deals in which branded drugmakers pay generic firms to drop litigation and agree to a sell-by date. The FTC and EU regulators say that the deals keep generics off the market for longer than they would be otherwise, costing government payors billions of dollars. The FTC has sued multiple drugmakers over these deals, and EU antitrust officials have been raiding pharma offices and gathering documents as part of their probe.

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