BRUSSELS Jan 31 EU antitrust regulators charged
pharmaceutical firms Johnson & Johnson and Novartis
on Thursday over the delay of a generic competitor for
painkiller fentanyl in the Dutch market.
The European Commission, which acts as antitrust regulator
in the 27-nation European Union, said it had sent a "statement
of objections" or charge sheet to the companies over an
agreement between their Dutch subsidiaries.
"If our preliminary conclusions are confirmed, the Dutch
subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson and Novartis entered into a
so-called 'co-promotion' agreement to avoid competing against
each other, depriving users of fentanyl in the Netherlands from
access to a cheaper painkiller," the Commission said in a
The charges arose from an investigation of the
pharmaceuticals sector after a Commission report highlighted
deals between major drugmakers aimed at hindering or blocking
generic medicines in "pay-for-delay" deals.