Procter & Gamble tactics against generics: OFT not interested

OFT notice (about 2 pages) that it has decided to abandon an investigation into allegations that Procter & Gamble has used unfair practices to protect its anti-inflammatory colitis drug Asacol against competition from generics.

On allegations of predatory pricing in the hospital sector (seemingly similar to the case against Napp), the OFT, after investigating for about 30 months, found no evidence of “pricing below the appropriate measure of cost”. The notice does not say what measure of cost was used.

On brand equalisation and unfair marketing tactics, OFT decided not to look. It was apparently too busy, and it was enough to note that “it is possible that the outcome of the current renegotiation of the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme will make brand equalisation deals less attractive to the UK pharmaceutical industry in the future” and that some gastroenterologists thought that Asacol was different from other forms of mesalazine because it is a modified-release drug.

According to the British National Formulary, the products most directly at stake (400mg mesalazine tablets) are available in the UK from Sandoz (Novartis) and Teva (formerly IVAX) as well as Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals. Dr Falk, Ferring and Shire make other formulations.

Comment: This "we can't be bothered to look at your problem" decision looks carefully crafted to be difficult to appeal in the light of the Cityhook case — compare with the pre-Cityhook clozapine case closure (3 pages, PDF). The notice even highlights how some of the conduct complained of might very well be an abuse, but the OFT has deliberately decided not to examine it. Welcome to the UK competition law enforcement regime. Franck.

For further information or advice please contact Franck Latrémolière.

Filed under Article 82, Healthcare, OFT, Pharmaceuticals.

Reckon LLP is an economics consultancy with expertise in data analysis, economic regulation and competition law.

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