Spanish anitrust agency Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Compentencia (CNMC) Tuesday fined US pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) 39 million euros for abuse of the market. The agency claims that MSD took unjustified legal action against its Spanish competitor Insud Phrama under the false pretense of protecting its patent. According to the CNMC, MSD wanted to unjustly delay the market entry of its Spanish competitor’s product.
From 2002 to 2018, MSD enjoyed a monopoly over contraceptive devices in Spain. Insud Pharma launched a competing contraceptive in 2017, and MSD alleged patent infringement. MSD sought an injunction in the Spanish court systems to prevent Insud Pharma from selling their competing contraceptive. The lawsuit resulted in a halt on the release and sale of Insud Pharma’s contraceptive for over 3 months.
The CNMC has come to the conclusion that MSD’s lawsuit was part of a plan to suppress competition from Insud Pharma for as long as possible, citing the lack of transparency and factual support for the claims MSD alleged in its lawsuit. The agency wrote, “The CNMC considers that the lack of transparency of MSD’s conduct is contrary to merit-based competition, as every dominant undertaking has a special responsibility not to impede, through its conduct, the development of effective and undistorted competition in the common market.”
The CNMC has declared MSD and their parent company, MSD Human Health Holding, jointly and severally liable for the payment of the fine.