The Spanish antitrust agency Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Compentencia (CNMC) fined US pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) on Tuesday for a total of €39 million for abusing the market. The agency alleges that MSD has taken unwarranted legal action against its Spanish competitor Insud Phrama under the false pretense of protecting its patent. According to the CNMC, MSD wrongly wanted to delay the market entry of its Spanish competitor’s product.
From 2002 to 2018, MSD had a monopoly on contraceptives in Spain. Insud Pharma launched a competing contraceptive in 2017 and MSD claimed patent infringement. MSD filed for a ban in Spanish courts to prevent Insud Pharma from selling their competing contraceptive. The lawsuit led to a halt in the release and sale of the contraceptive from Insud Pharma for more than 3 months.
The CNMC has concluded that MSD’s lawsuit was part of a plan to suppress competition from Insud Pharma for as long as possible, citing the lack of transparency and factual support for the claims MSD made in its lawsuit. The agency wrote: “The CNMC believes that the lack of transparency of MSD’s behavior is contrary to merit-based competition, as any dominant company has a special responsibility to promote the development of effective and undistorted competition through its conduct. in the common market.”
The CNMC has held MSD and their parent company, MSD Human Health Holding, jointly and severally liable for the payment of the fine.