European antitrust squad to charge Lundbeck, Servier

European antitrust officials have zeroed in on Lundbeck and Servier. The two drugmakers are about to face charges that their attempts to fight off cheap generics violated competition laws.

As Reuters reports, France's Servier and Denmark's Lundbeck will become the first two companies actually charged in the European Commission's long-running probe of the pharma industry. Antitrust regulators have raided pharma offices and targeted multiple companies as they searched for evidence that branded drugmakers and their generic counterparts colluded to keep copycat drugs off the market.

Servier and Lundbeck are to face separate charges, sources told the news service, in cases that could result in big fines. Investigators have been looking into Servier's deals with generics companies that wanted to knock off its blood pressure drug Aceon. Lundbeck is under the microscope for alleged attempts to keep copycat Cipralex--its top-selling antidepressant--off the market.

EC officials have dropped some other high-profile probes. AstraZeneca ($AZN), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Nycomed all escaped charges, the antitrust squad announced in March. Investigators are still looking into a number of generic-blocking allegations. Among the companies still under investigation at the time were Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) and its new Cephalon unit, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Novartis ($NVS).

- read the Reuters news