European Commission Enforcement in the Pharmaceutical Sector: Less Than Expected? The Boehringer Case Closure Suggests As Much
Sean-Paul Brankin, Jul 27, 2012
On July 6, 2011, the European Commission closed the case file in its Boehringer/Almirall investigation. It did so without a formal decision, without formal remedies, and without imposing a fine. There is nothing necessarily remarkable about that. Sometimes an investigation simply reveals that there is no case to answer and the file must be closed. But here, something more interesting seems to have been going on. In effect, the Commission reached an informal settlement with Boehringer involving no penalty. In context, that was a curious decision: this was the first definitive enforcement action (albeit informal) taken by the Commission in the wake of the Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry. That suggests something significant about the likely extent of the Commission's enforcement of EU antitrust rules in the pharmaceutical sector. Teasing out what requires a more detailed look at the underlying facts and the overall context.