The European Commission’s investigation into the behaviour of companies operating in the pharmaceutical sector in the European Union culminated in the publication of a final report on July 8, 2009. Duncan Curley looks at the implications.
In the face of spiralling European drugs bills, the rationale for the European Commission’s initial investigation was to learn more about company practices that cause delays to the market entry of cheaper generic medicines. The commission presented its preliminary report in November 2008.
On matters such as patent filing strategies and patent litigation (delaying) tactics, this preliminary report received a largely hostile response from originator pharmaceutical companies.
The recommendations proposed in the commission’s final report were much less contentious. The commission concluded that there is an urgent need to establish a Community Patent and a unified specialised patent litigation system in Europe. In addition, it welcomed recent initiatives of the European Patent Office (EPO) to accelerate certain of its prosecution procedures and ensure that only high-quality patents are granted.
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Pharmaceuticals, European Commission