BRUSSELS, Dec 10 (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators fined drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Novartis a total of 16 million euros ($21.95 million) on Tuesday for blocking the sale of a generic painkiller in the Dutch market.
The European Commission said in a statement that the deal between the two companies meant patients did not have access to the cheaper generic version of fentanyl for 17 months starting from July 2005.
Johnson & Johnson and its Dutch unit, Janssen-Cilag, were fined 10.8 million euros while Novartis and its Dutch subsidiary, Sandoz, were fined 5.5 million euros.
“Today’s decision should make pharmaceutical companies think twice before engaging into such anti-competitive practices, which harm both patients and taxpayers,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
This is the second crackdown by the Commission against so-called pay-for-delay deals where brand-name drugmakers pay generic companies not to market rival versions of their medicine which usually cost a fraction of the original drug.