June 4, 2020 / 8:35 AM / a month ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Setback for Lundbeck as EU court adviser backs EU antitrust fine

(Corrects typo in headline)

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, June 4 (Reuters) - Danish drugmaker Lundbeck’s fight against a 2013 EU antitrust fine imposed for deals with rivals to delay sales of generic copies of its anti-depressant citalopram hit a hurdle after a top court adviser said its appeal should be rejected.

Drugmakers have fought a lengthy battle for “pay-for-delay” deals against antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic who say such agreements hurt competition and hold back innovation.

The European Commission had fined Lundbeck and five other generic drugmakers a combined 146 million euros for their pay-for-delay deals because they breached EU rules.

Lundbeck’s fine was 93.7 million euros ($105 million). The company subsequently challenged the EU decision at the General Court but lost in 2016, prompting it to appeal to the EU Court of Justice, Europe’s highest.

“The Court of Justice should uphold the fine of almost €94 million imposed on the Lundbeck pharmaceutical group in the context of agreements intended to delay the marketing of generic versions of its antidepressant medicinal product citalopram,” CJEU advocate general Juliane Kokott wrote in an opinion.

The CJEU, which follows four out of five such non-binding recommendations, will rule in the coming months.

Brand name drugmakers have in recent years struck fewer pay-for-delay deals with their generic counterparts, following courts defeats.

The case is C-591/16 P Lundbeck v Commission.

$1 = 0.8928 euros Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Jason Neely

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