from the profits-before-patients dept
Back in April of this year, we wrote about a spate of investigations around the world into "pay for delay" deals, whereby a big pharma company essentially buys off manufacturers of generics so that the former can continue to enjoy monopoly pricing long after its patents have expired. One of those involved the European Union, and the two pharma companies Johnson & Johnson and Novartis. As PharmaTimes reports, fines are being imposed on them for their actions:
The European Commission has fined Johnson & Johnson (J&J) just under 10.8 million euros and Novartis 5.49 million euros, after finding that their subsidiaries in the Netherlands had agreed an anticompetitive deal aimed at delaying the market entry there of a generic version of the painkiller Duragesic (fentanyl), thus breaching European Union (EU) antitrust rules.
Of course, such sums are little more than a wrist slap for pharma giants, but it's nonetheless good to see the European Commission making clear that this anti-competitive behavior is not acceptable in the EU:
The payment by J&J to Novartis "shockingly deprived patients in the Netherlands, including people suffering from cancer, from access to a cheaper version of this medicine," said Joaquin Almunia, the European Commission vice president in charge of competitive policy.
Despite that fact, with the likelihood that cancer patients were probably in more pain than was necessary, some remain in denial:
In a statement, Novartis and [its subsidiary] Sandoz say they "reject the Commission's allegation that the 2005 co-promotion agreement was intended to deprive patients in the Netherlands of cheaper medicines."
Whether or not that was the "intention", it was the inevitable effect, and quibbling over the difference shows the moral squalor of companies like Novartis that regard additional suffering of cancer patients as some kind collateral damage that can be ignored in the cause of pumping up their profits.