February 10, 2009

Swiss say drugmakers colluded on impotence drugs

ZURICH - Swiss authorities recommended sanctions against drugmakers Pfizer Inc, Eli Lilly and Co and Bayer AG on Tuesday along with drug distributors suspected of price fixing anti-impotence treatments.
A panel of the Swiss Competition Commission said an inquiry was opened in 2006 into prices charged for erectile dysfunction drugs Viagra from Pfizer, Cialis from Lilly, and Bayer's Levitra, which are not reimbursed by Swiss insurers.
"The panel came to the conclusion that the publication and observance of the recommended retail prices for the medicines Viagra, Cialis and Levitra represented illegal vertical collusion between the producers and distributors," it said in a statement.
The three companies have 20 days to request a copy of the study in order to formulate their responses and a further month to respond from the date of the request. The Competition Commission will take its decision on the panel's recommendation after that.
Pfizer said it was aware of an ongoing investigation into erectile dysfunction medicines including its Viagra.
"Pfizer is confident that the company has adhered to all applicable laws," a Pfizer spokesman said. "We can not speculate about what actions WEKO may take and when, based on this draft recommendation."
Lilly said it was aware of the proposal but had not yet had chance to analyse it in detail, saying it was cooperating with authorities.
"Based on our present knowledge, we are confident that the public price recommendations for Cialis do not constitute an illicit vertical agreement or infringe article 5 para 4 of the Cartels Act," a Lilly spokeswoman said.
A Bayer spokesman said the German company was checking on the situation and could not yet comment.

Recent cartels involving Bayer:

Please also see the charge brought against BAYER by CBG