GSK paid off rivals to delay drug sale, OFT claims

Posted on 19 Apr 2013

The Office of Fair Trading has accused pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline of market "abuse".

The consumer watchdog alleged that Alpharma, Generics UK and Norton Healthcare, three of company’s competitors, received money to delay the commercialisation of their versions of GSK’s Seroxat, used to treat depression.

GSK said it “supports fair competition” and that it “acted within the law”.

In a statement, the firm said: “In fact, these arrangements actually resulted in generic versions of paroxetine entering the market before GSK’s patents had expired. The OFT investigation covers matters that have already been investigated by the European Commission in 2005-2006.”

If proven, these allegations would represent an abuse of its dominant position in the market by GlaxoSmithKline and an infringement of competition law by all the companies involved.

In March 2012 the Commission formally concluded its enquiry with no further action, GSK claimed.

“The issues were also reviewed in the European Commission’s 2008-2009 Sector Inquiry. Neither investigation resulted in any sanctions against the company,” the statement added.

According to the OFT, the pharma company accused generic drug makers of infringing its patent and paid them off.

“The paroxetine supply agreements under investigation were terminated in 2004,” GSK said.