A legal official said Wednesday that the European Court of Justice should side with a ruling from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that "pay-for-delay" deals between GlaxoSmithKline and other companies in relation to the antidepressant Seroxat (paroxetine) may be contrary to competition law. Advocate general Juliane Kokott suggested that such agreements "constitute a restriction of competition" and are "an abuse of a dominant position."
In 2016, the CMA fined GlaxoSmithKline and a number of other drugmakers a total of nearly £45 million ($59 million) for reaching deals that delayed the entry of generic competition to Seroxat in the UK. At the time, the regulator said that GlaxoSmithKline had agreed to make payments to a number of companies, including Generics Limited and Alpharma, to delay the launch of generic versions of the drug.
GlaxoSmithKline and the other parties challenged the CMA's decision before the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal, which has asked for guidance from the Court of Justice. Kokott suggested that the Court of Justice should consider the long-term impact for consumers when reaching a ruling. "Possible benefits afforded to consumers by the agreements concerned must, also in that context, be taken into account," Kokott remarked. A ruling from the Court of Justice is expected in the next few months.
In response to Kokott's opinion, GlaxoSmithKline said "we do not yet have the final ruling in this case and so will not be commenting further while proceedings are ongoing."
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