French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline of the UK and British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca have confirmed that they have been visited by European Commission officials as part of an investigation into the drug industry.
The European Commission said it is trying to find out if some of the world’s largest drugmakers have been involved in illegal deals or abused patents to limit competition to the disadvantage of consumers. EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes explained: “The inquiry will look at whether companies have created artificial barriers to innovative or generic product entry.”
Regulators suspect the companies could be holding back on introducing better drugs to protect their market shares. As well as the European firms, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and Merck are part of the investigation.