GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been fined £37.6m for entering into deals that delayed the entry of generic versions of its ‘blockbuster’ antidepressant Seroxat (paroxetine) into the UK market.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued fines totalling £44.99m for anticompetitive behaviours related to the case, with smaller fines being imposed on Generics (UK) Ltd. (GUK) and Alpharma Ltd.
GSK agreed to make payments and other “value transfers” totalling over £50m to suppliers of generic medicines, including GUK and Alpharma, to delay entry of their paroxetine products between 2001 and 2004. The agreements were reached just before GSK was due to take the companies to court on the grounds that the generic products would infringe GSK’s patents of Seroxat.
The CMA says the “pay-for-delay” agreements deferred the potential competition benefits of the generics being available in the UK and that the move had particular impact on the NHS, depriving it of “significant” price falls.
When generic versions of Seroxat eventually became available in the UK in 2003, the average price of paroxetine dropped 70% in two years.
GUK and Merck KGaA, the former parent company of GUK, were fined £5.8m for competition law infringements. In respect of Alpharma’s infringement, total fines of £1.5m were imposed on Actavis UK Ltd. (formerly Alpharma Ltd), Xellia Pharmaceuticals ApS (formerly Alpharma ApS) and Alpharma LLC (formerly Zoetis Products LLC, Alpharma LLC and Alpharma Inc).