EPLAW PATENT BLOG

EU – Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigation into possible anticompetitive conduct of Teva in relation to Copaxone

Posted: March 5th, 2021

From the press release:

“The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether the pharmaceutical company Teva has illegally delayed the market entry and uptake of medicines that compete with its blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone. The Commission will investigate whether Teva has abused a dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules.

[…]

“In 2015, Teva’s basic patent covering glatiramer acetate expired. The Commission will investigate whether, following the patent expiry, Teva may have artificially extended the market exclusivity of Copaxone by strategically filing and withdrawing divisional patents, repeatedly delaying entry of its generic competitor who was obliged to file a new legal challenge each time. Divisional patents originate from a broader “parent” patent and may cover significantly overlapping inventions, sometimes allowing the patentee to multiply the patent barriers that a generic competitor needs to overcome to enter the market.

“In addition, the Commission will also examine whether Teva may have pursued a communication campaign to unduly hinder the use of competing glatiramer acetate products. The Commission has indications that Teva’s campaign, primarily directed at healthcare institutions and professionals, may have targeted competing products to create a false perception of health risks associated with their use, even following the approval of these medicines by competent public health authorities.

“If proven, Teva’s behaviour may amount to an abuse of dominant position and infringe Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 54 of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement.

“This is the Commission’s first formal investigation into potential abuses relating to the misuse of patent procedures and exclusionary disparagement of competing products in the pharmaceutical industry.”

The entire press release can be read here.

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