Nine drugmakers have been fined by EU competition regulators for blocking a cheaper anti-depressant medicine from coming to the market.
Danish firm Lundbeck was hit with the largest fine – almost 94 million euros.
The eight others – the biggest of which was Germany’s Merck – were fined a combined 52 million.
They were found to have done “pay-for-delay” deals under which producers of generic drugs take money from brand-name firms not to bring out cheaper versions of their drugs.
Generic medicines – which can be made after a patent on a drug expires – usually cost much less than the original.
Lundbeck said it would appeal against the EU decision in court.
“Agreements of this type directly harm patients and national health systems, which are already under tight budgetary constraints,” said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. “The Commission will not tolerate such anticompetitive practices.”
The Commission said the generic companies agreed with Lundbeck in 2002 not to enter the market in return for substantial payments.
Brand name companies have defended “pay-for-delay” deals saying they are done to protect patents and avoid costly litigation.