European Union antitrust authorities raided the offices of a number of pharmaceutical companies in several European nations yesterday, on suspicion of conducting anticompetitive business deals or abusing a dominant position in the market.
The European Commission, the antitrust watchdog for the 27-nation EU, without naming the companies involved, said they were acting on suspicions that the companies may have been illegally squeezing out competitors or infringing the EC Treaty prohibiting restrictive business practices.
"The Commission has reason to believe that the provisions of the (EU) treaty prohibiting restrictive business practices and / or the abuse of a dominant position may have been infringed," an EU executive said in a statement.
The raids are a preliminary step in an antitrust investigation and the guilt companies could be fined up to 10 per cent of annual global turnover.
This is the fourth time since the beginning of the investigations of the pharmaceutical industry in January 2008 that the European Commission is conducting raids on pharmaceutical companies across Europe.
In October, EU officials conducted raids at the French unit of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, India's biggest drug maker, Sanofi-Aventis SA, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and a unit of Novartis AG as part of a widened probe of settlements between drug makers and brand-name pharmaceutical companies. (See: EU official raid Ranbaxy French unit)