By Cecilia Butini

 

The European Commission said Thursday that it has fined pharmaceutical companies Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and its subsidiary Cephalon Inc. a total of 60.5 million euros ($72.1 million)for violating European antitrust rules for keeping a generic version of a drug out of the market.

The commission said the two companies agreed to delay the market entry of a cheaper, generic version of Cephalon's sleep-disorder drug modafinil for several years after Cephalon's main patents had expired. The agreement was put in place before Cephalon became a Teva subsidiary, according to the commission.

"It is illegal if pharmaceutical companies agree to buy-off competition and keep cheaper medicines out of the market," Executive Vice-President Margarethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, said.

Ms. Vestager added that the two companies' behavior "harmed patients and national health systems, depriving them of more affordable medicines."

According to the commission, Cephalon induced Teva not to market a cheaper version of its drug by offering a package of advantageous commercial side deals and cash payments. This eliminated Teva as a competitor and allowed Cephalon to keep charging higher prices for modafinil, even after the patent had expired. This lasted from 2005 to 2011--when Teva acquired Cephalon--and took place in most EU member states, the commission said.

The fine imposed by the commission is EUR30 million for Teva and EUR30.5 million for Cephalon, it said.

 

Write to Cecilia Butini at cecilia.butini@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 26, 2020 07:37 ET (12:37 GMT)

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