The pharmaceutical company Lundbeck has been slapped with a 700 million kroner fine for violating EU anti-trust regulations.
Lundbeck’s participation in a 2002 scheme to delay generic versions of its anti-depressant drug Citalopram from coming into the marketplace earned it the largest EU fine ever levied against a Danish firm.
A 2009 report by the European Commission on the pharmaceutical sector, said that ‘pay-for-delay’ agreements between Lundbeck and the other companies involved led to consumers paying as much as 20 percent more for their medicines.
Pay-for-delay agreements involve brand-name firms paying producers of low-cost generic drugs not to market rival versions of their products.
In Lundbeck’s case the drug in question was Citalopram, one of the world’s most widely prescribed anti-depressants, and the company’s primary product.
"Agreements of this type hurt patients and national health systems, which are already under tight budgetary constraints," the EU competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, told media. "The commission will not tolerate such anti-competitive practices."
Internal documents uncovered during the investigation mentioned a ‘club’ that facilitated the transfer of large amounts of money among members. Lundbeck paid significant amounts to buy up and destroy competitors’ inventories of generic medications.
Generic manufacturers who were in on the scheme were also fined by the commission. Lundbeck said it would appeal the decision but has downgraded its predicted operating profits for the year as a result of the fine.