* Total fine unlikely to exceed 300 million euros
* European Commission declines to comment
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, June 19 EU antitrust regulators are
set to fine French drugmaker Servier, Israel's Teva
and several of their peers next month for blocking cheaper
generic medicine, two people with knowledge of the matter said
The sanctions will be the third action by the European
Commission against so-called pay-for-delay deals in the
pharmaceutical industry, where brand-name companies pay generics
firms to refrain from putting rival medicines on the market.
A damning 2009 report by the European Union competition
watchdog said such deals could jack up the cost of drugs by as
much as 20 percent for consumers.
The regulators' decision, in a more than 900-page document,
will likely be given to the companies next month, the sources
said. They said the total fine was not likely to exceed 300
million euros ($407 million) and could be much less.
Companies found guilty of breaching EU antitrust rules can
be fined up to 10 percent of their global turnover. Servier made
4.2 billion euros in sales last year.
Drugmakers say pay-for-delay deals stave off costly
Commission spokesman for competition policy Antoine
Colombani and Teva declined to comment. The other companies
involved were not immediately available.
The Commission in July 2012 charged Servier, France's
second-largest drugmaker, with making illegal agreements with
world No. 1 generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries,
Unichem and its subsidiary Niche, as well as Matrix,
which is now known as Mylan Laboratories, Krka and Lupin.
The watchdog said the deals could have maintained Servier's
control of perindopril, a blood pressure medicine, which was set
to lose its patent protection.
Denmark's Lundbeck, Germany's Merck KGaA
and its former subsidiary Generics UK, which is now owned by
Mylan, India's No. 1 pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy
and several others were hit with a total fine of 146 million
euros in June last year for pay-for-delay deals.
Six months later, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis
were penalised 16.3 million euros for their
($1 = 0.7368 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Tova Cohen in Jerusalem; Editing by