Novartis and Roche won an appeal against a French regulator that had sentenced the two Swiss drugmakers to a record fine over alleged market abuse.
The Autorité de la Concurrence, France’s competition watchdog, imposed a fine of €444 million in 2020 on the two companies. It had accused Roche and Novartis of abusing their dominant position to sell a drug used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Lucentis, to the detriment of a cheaper treatment, Avastin.
A Paris appeals court has overturned (PDF) the verdict, ruling that Novartis and Roche did not abuse their market dominance to protect use of their shared macular degeneration treatment, Lucentis, when a much cheaper off-label alternative was available.
The court also said that Novartis had been “measured in tone” and not denigrating toward Avastin, according to the news service. And there was no attempt by either of the companies to be misleading or alarmist in their marketing of the drugs the court found.
“Novartis strongly contested these allegations from the outset and firmly believes the company has acted appropriately and in compliance with competition law and the interests of patients at all times,” the company said. “It is satisfied that this has now been recognized by the Court of Appeal, which has annulled the French Competition Authority’s decision in its entirety.”