Drugmakers Under EU Radar
Europe, Middle East and Africa
Reuters reports that European Union (EU) antitrust regulators have raided AstraZeneca, maker of best-selling drug Nexium, following suspicions of “collusion to block the sale of cheaper generic medicines”. Consumers were reportedly paying billions of euros in costs as a result of delays in generic drugs reaching the market, according to a report released by the European Commission. Reportedly, EU officials also visited the sites of Swiss drugmaker Nycomed as part of the investigation.
Reuters: AstraZeneca’s Nexium target in EU antitrust probe (3 December 2010)
Google To Face Antitrust Probe
The European Commission (EC) has announced that it will launch an antitrust probe into whether Google Inc (Google) misused its strong position in online search, following allegations by search service providers “about unfavourable treatment of their services in Google’s unpaid and sponsored search results” and giving “preferential placement of Google’s own services”, thereby stifling competition. Google allegedly lowered the ranking of competitors’ unpaid search results that provide internet users with price comparisons and other “specific online content”. The EC will also look into whether Google lowered the “Quality Score” for the sponsored links of competitors and prevented advertising partners “from placing certain types of competing ads” on their websites.
EC’s media release (30 November 2011)
Related news item:
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH): EU launches antitrust probe into Google (1 December 2010)
(Source: EC; SMH)
Pram Distributor Caught for Resale Price Maintenance
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that IGC Dorel Pty Ltd (IGC) and its managing director Robert Berchik have been penalised A$100,000 for engaging in resale price maintenance by attempting to prevent retailers from selling Bertini brand products at a price lower than that specified by IGC. Additionally, IGC has been ordered to send letters to its retailers notifying them of this outcome and also implement trade practices law compliance and education programs.
ACCC’s media release (1 December 2010)
Air Cargo Companies Guilty of Price Fixing
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Singapore Airlines Cargo Pte Ltd (SAC) has admitted to price fixing charges and will pay US$48 million in criminal fines. SAC and co-conspirators allegedly conspired to fix air cargo rates for international air shipments of certain customers in the US and elsewhere. So far 20 airlines and 17 executives have been charged under the DoJ’s investigation into price fixing in the air transportation industry.
DoJ’s media release (30 November 2010)
Fraud Involving Housing Repair Contracts Uncovered
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that former Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC (Ocwen) sales manager Benjamin Graves has pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving housing repair contracts for the US Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA). Ocwen handled the foreclosure of properties for DVA and was supposed to repair and resell the property if a veteran defaulted on payment. Mr Graves accepted cash payments for directing repair contracts to companies associated to a particular contractor. He passed on competitive bidding information to the competitor and submitted false bids to Ocwen to carry out the operation.
DoJ’s media release (3 December 2010)