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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 16917

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

The Associated Press
EU raids drug makers in antitrust probe
Business Week 2009 Dec 9

Full text:

European Union antitrust regulators said they made surprise raids on the offices of drug makers in several European nations Wednesday to seek evidence that they struck anticompetitive business deals or used a dominant market position to squeeze rivals.

They did not name the companies and said the raids were a preliminary step in an antitrust investigation. If they find the firms guilty, they can fine them up to 10 percent of annual global turnover.

In October, pharmaceutical companies Sanofi-Aventis SA, Novartis AG and Ratiopharm International GmbH said their French offices had been raided.

The EU’s competition commissioner Neelie Kroes warned in July that major drug makers face a wave of antitrust investigations. The EU concluded a broad inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector by saying that drugs companies are deliberately stalling cheaper generic versions of their own medicines once exclusive patents expire.

Until now, the EU has only gone public about one other investigation involving France’s Les Laboratoires Servier for hindering the launch of generic versions of its heart disease drug perindopril.

Regulators said they suspected that Servier did deals with generic rivals Krka, Lupin, Matrix, Niche Generics Ltd and Teva to hold back cheaper versions.

The EU says generic drugs are on average 40 percent cheaper than their branded rivals two years after they launch. It warned that it knew of at least 200 settlement agreements — some including payments to delay drug launches — between generic and brand-name drug makers that could restrict the rollout of generic versions.


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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963