GlaxoSmithKline has been fined £37.6m by Britain’s competition authority, the Competition & Markets Authority, for anti-competitive behaviour in relation to its antidepressant Seroxat. The pharmaceutical firm had paid generic drug-makers more than £50m between 2001 and 2004 in return for them delaying the launch of cheaper versions of the drug. The generic drugmakers involved, Generics UK Limited (GUK) and Alpharma, were also fined, bringing the total penalties imposed to £45m. GUK’s former parent Merck was fined £5.8m and further penalties of £1.5m were imposed on Alpharma and its parent Actavis.
The “pay-for-delay” agreements “potentially deprived the NHS of the significant price falls that generally result from generic competition”. In this case, when generic copies did come on to the market at the end of 2003, average prices dropped by more than 70% in two years. In the UK, 4.2m prescriptions were issued for Seroxat in 2000 and sales exceeded £90m in 2001.