Paris, France. The French Competition Authority imposed a record fine of 444 million euros (US $ 524 million) on the Swiss laboratories Novartis and Roche and the American Genentech, accused of “abusive practices”.
This is the largest collective fine ever imposed by the French authorities on pharmaceutical companies.
In a statement, the French Competition Authority explained that Genentech, Novartis and Roche engaged in abusive “dominant position” behavior in order to preserve the position and price of Lucentis and to curb the cancer drug Avastin, which does not have authorization to be used in macular degeneration.
Lucentis is a treatment for macular degeneration (AMD), an age-related retinal disease, developed by Genentech, whose capital is linked to that of the Swiss groups Roche and Novartis.
However, doctors realized that another Genentech drug, Avastin, had positive effects on AMD and began to prescribe it despite the fact that it does not have a marketing authorization for this disease.
Avastin costs 30 times less than Lucentis. An Avastin injection costs between 30 and 40 euros, compared to 1.16 euros for Lucentis.
According to the competition authority, Novartis “tried to thwart the initiatives of ophthalmologists who, within the framework of their freedom of prescription, decided to prescribe Avastin, outside of its marketing authorization.”
“Novartis, Roche and Genentech were also sanctioned for having applied a series of blocking measures and for having disseminated an alarming and sometimes misleading message to public authorities about the risks associated with the use of Avastin for the treatment of AMD. ”.