EU regulators raid French pharmaceutical sites
The European Commission investigates French biomedical sites suspected of anti-competitive practices.
14 November 2008
BRUSSELS - EU investigators raided biomedical analysis sites in France on Wednesday and Thursday due to suspicions of anti-competitive practices, the European Commission announced.
The "unannounced inspections" targeted the Paris offices of France's National Order of Pharmacists, which controls entry to the profession.
The commission, the EU's executive arm, "has reason to believe that the provisions of the EC Treaty prohibiting cartels, restrictive business practices and/or abuse of a dominant position have been infringed," it said in a statement.
The commission, adopting its normal practice, did not mention names, stressing that its investigations were in the beginning stage and that the inspections do "not mean that the enterprises concerned are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour".
However more information was revealed in Paris.
"We received a visit from a number of representatives of the commission," Jean Parrot, president of the national pharmacists’ headquarters, told reporters in the French capital.
He added that the other site searched was a medical analysis laboratory linked to the group.
According to the commission "we have hampered or refused entry to the profession of a number of pharmaceutical biologists or groups", said Parrot.
He added that the commission's suspicions dated back to "at least 2003".
The enquiry started after a complaint from one company over a membership refusal.
Parrot defended his group's methods, saying they were in line with France's health regulations.
It is currently illegal in France for those who are not health professionals to hold more than 25 percent of the capital of an analysis laboratory.
The French government is preparing to change the rule which Brussels says contradicts the "freedom of establishment", a rule governing individuals' right to establish themselves as professionals in member states.
There is no time limit for the commission to complete its investigation of suspected anti-competitive practices.
[AFP / Expatica]