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Pharma firm may have 'abused' its position.

THE UK's competition watchdog said pharmaceuticals firm Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) may have broken rules by discounting a top drug to make it harder for competitors.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said MSD appears to have abused its marketleading position by discounting the rheumatoid arthritis medicine Remicade to such an extent that it is holding back competition from similar versions sold by other firms.

In a statement the CMA said: "The CMA has provisionally found that MSD broke competition law by abusing its dominant position through a discount scheme for Remicade that was likely to restrict competition from 'biosimilar' versions of infliximab that were new to the market.

"At this stage of the CMA's investigation, these findings are provisional and no conclusion should be drawn that there has in fact been any breach of competition law."

Remicade, MSD's version of the medicine infliximab, is used to treat patients with gastroenterology and rheumatoid conditions, including Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The United States-based firm has offices in 140 countries, including a site at Cramlington, Northumberland.

The CMA, which opened its investigation in December 2015, said it plans to find MSD and the firm's parent company Merck & Co Inc "severally liable for the alleged infringement".

A spokesman for MSD said: "The company is confident that the proceedings will show that MSD has complied with competition law at all times.

"The discounts in question meant that infliximab was competitively priced and offered savings to the UK National Health Service NHS, without hindering competition.

"The statement of objections sets out the CMA's provisional views only.

"It is not a finding that MSD has infringed competition law and MSD welcomes the opportunity to respond."

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 24, 2017
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