For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Heartache for heartburn drugmaker, though court sweetens the bitter pill

If you're too busy to read all 920 paragraphs of Case T-321/05 AstraZeneca v Commission, delivered today by the General Court of the European Union, let the IPKat help you at least find out what all the fuss is about. Aided only by his native wit and his well-informed friend Stephanie Bodoni (Bloomberg), he can tell you that the day was one of sweetness and bitterness for drug company AstraZeneca.

This morning the European Union's second-highest court [that's the second-highest of two, unless you count the EU's Civil Service Tribunal] upheld the finding of the European Commission that AstraZeneca -- the UK's second-largest pharma company -- misled patent officials and flouted antitrust rules in order to keep a generic competitor off the market. However, the company s fine from 60 million euros to a mere 52.5 million euros [i.e. more or less the cost of buying a good footballer]. The product which AZ had so mischievously sought to keep to itself was Omeprazole, sold as Prilosec and Losec heartburn medicine (among other names).


AstraZeneca had challenged the European Commission's decision back in June 2005 to fine it for market abuse and misleading patent offices in Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, not to mention numerous courts, over Prilosec. While this finding remains unscathed, the General Court [correctly, in this Kat's view] reversed the Commission's finding that AstraZeneca breached EU rules by withdrawing market approvals for older versions of the medicine in Denmark and Norway, thus preventing market entry by generic producers and parallel importers.

The IPKat fancies that there will be an appeal by both sides to the Court of Justice, though this will not be immediate since it takes a long time to read 920 paragraphs, the soccer World Cup is still in full swing and the British interest in Wimbledon Fortnight is not yet ended.

Heartburn in cats here
The Commission's decision (Case COMP/A.37.507/F3 – AstraZeneca) here
How the news was broken by Reuters, Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out paras 864 and 865 - in fact, the Court did not "reverse[] the Commission's finding that AstraZeneca breached EU rules by withdrawing market approvals for older versions of the medicine in Denmark and Norway, thus preventing market entry by generic producers and parallel importers".

It upheld the Commission's finding that the deregistration was abusive by restricting generic access to the market in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It also upheld the Commission's finding of abuse by restricting parallel imports into Sweden.

However, it reversed the finding of abuse by restricting parallel imports into Denmark and Norway on the basis of lack of evidence that the deregistrations could have had such an effect in those countries.

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