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Antitrust: European Commission Confirms Unannounced Inspections at Pharmaceutical Companies

BRUSSELS, Nov. 25, 2008-The European Commission can confirm that on 24 November Commission officials started inspections in several Member States at the premises of a number of pharmaceutical companies. The Commission has reason to believe that the provisions of the EC Treaty prohibiting restrictive business practices and/or the abuse of a dominant market position (Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty) may have been infringed.
The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant the national competition authorities.

Inspections are a preliminary stage in an investigation of suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the enterprises concerned are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour and does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in the Commission’s proceedings against them.

There is no strict time limit for completing investigations of anti-competitive practices. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned cooperate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

The inspections are not related to the pharmaceutical sector inspections in January 2008 (see IP/08/49) nor part of the pharmaceutical sector competition inquiry, the preliminary results of which are due to be published in the course of this week. However, the knowledge acquired during the sector inquiry has allowed the Commission to draw conclusions on where Commission action based on competition law could be appropriate and effective.
 

Posted: November 2008


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