Antitrust investigates 8 pharmaceutical companies, the AGCM accuses

L'Antitrust accused eight pharmaceutical companies of having delayed the marketing entry of a drug for the treatment of a particular eye disease, the Byooviz, least expensive competitor's Lucentis. The two products are biosimilar but some groups would have agreed to prevent the first from being sold in Italy, so as not to damage the sales of the second.

The first reports arrived in 2022, directly fromItalian Medicines Agency. The damage of agreements of this type in Italy weighs mainly on the state coffers, which pays pharmaceutical companies for these supplies in order to put drugs on the market at a reduced price for patients through the national health system.

Antitrust charges against eight pharmaceutical companies

L'Agcm, the Italian agency that ensures compliance with competition rules on the market, also called Antitrust, is investigating the behavior of 8 pharmaceutical companies on the Italian market. This is Samsung Bioepis co. Ltd., Samsung Bioepis NL BV, Biogen Inc., Biogen Italia Srl, Genentech Inc., Novartis AG, Novartis Europharm Ltd. and Novartis Farma SpA These companies allegedly entered into an agreement to delay the entry onto the market of a drug, Byooviz , less expensive than a biosimilar product, Lucentis, already on the market.

Byooviz is produced and marketed by Samsung Bioepis and Biogenwhile Lucentis is developed by Genetech and marketed in Italy by the group Novartis. They are both based on the same active ingredient, ranibizumab, and are used for the treatment of some specific eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration.

“In the pharmaceutical sector, such conduct delays the entry of a drug into the market biosimilar competitor to the original one cause negative repercussions on the possible savings for purchases paid by the National Health Service, as well as prejudices towards patients and taxpayers in terms of breadth of offer and lower prices. In fact, biosimilar drugs are generally marketed at a cost significantly lower than that of their respective originatorsreads the Antitrust statement.

The hypothesis of treasury damage and the 2019 case

Such an agreement has few direct consequences for consumers. It is in fact very rare for a drug like the Lucentis or the Byooviz are purchased without a prescription from a doctor. For this reason, in any case, a large part of the cost of the product is covered by the National Health System. The damage is therefore almost entirely for him State. In fact, Italy makes agreements with pharmaceutical companies to purchase drugs which it then supplies to hospitals and pharmacies so that citizens pay a fraction of their real price.

The delay in the introduction of a less expensive drug therefore causes damage to the treasury, a circumstance that has already occurred in the past. In fact, in 2019 the pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis agreed not to market another drug for eye diseases,Avastin, which would have competed with Novartis. The damage to the state coffers in this specific case would have been quantifiable at around 200 million euros due to the higher costs of the drug Novartis.