14 September 2009, Curierul National (Romania)

Competition Council investigating possible arrangements between drug manufacturers and distributors

The Competition Council has started four investigations on possible infringement of competition rules on the wholesale drug distribution market, through agreements between producers and distributors, and made unannounced inspections at the respective companies - Bayer, Baxter, Belupo and Sintofarm.

Thus, representatives of the competition authority made unannounced inspections at the premises of the companies concerned, namely Bayer SRL (of the Bayer group, importer of Bayer Consumer Care products), Baxter AG (of the Swiss Baxter group), Belupo Pharmaceutical & Cosmetics (which sells drugs for the cardiovascular system and skin diseases, the second biggest pharmaceutical company in Croatia), respectively Sintofarm, a Romanian producer that makes generic drugs for the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system, according to a release of the Competition Council. The investigations were initiated ex officio.

"The pharmaceutical sector is a priority area for the Competition Council, given the existing dysfunctions. Therefore, we will intervene whenever necessary to restore competition in this market so that everyone has access to medicines at competitive prices," said Bogdan Chiritoiu, the president of the regulatory authority.

If an infringement of the competition rules is found, the companies risk fines of up to 10% of their turnover. If, however, they cooperate with the Competition Council, the companies can gain immunity from fines or reduction of fines of up to 50%, appealing to the leniency policy. "On the basis of the new leniency programme recently adopted by the Competition Council, this policy may also apply to arrangements concluded by the producers with their distributors, known under the name of vertical agreements", the release also reads.

The Competition Council is currently carrying out several investigations in the pharmaceutical field, but also a sectoral inquiry aimed at conducting a thorough market research, to identify and correct the main dysfunctions of anti-competition nature.

Recent cartels involving Bayer:

Please also see the charge brought against BAYER by CBG