British Drugmaker Faces EU Fury Over Appeal Against Fine

British drug-making company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) may have harmed competition with payments it made to generic drug producers to delay the launch of low-cost copies of an antidepressant, according to an adviser to the European Court of Justice.

The legal opinion, which isn’t binding on the court; however, carries significant weight, successfully upholds a penalty of 37.6 million pounds ($49 million) imposed by Britain’s competition watchdog in 2016.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) stated that during 2001-2004, GSK paid generic drug corporations more than 50 million pounds with the intention of delaying the release of affordable generic versions of its former blockbuster Seroxat after its license expired in 1999.

These so-called pay-for-delay deals “could also be considered a restriction of competition,” EU’s court advocate-general Juliane Kokott stated Wednesday.

GSK had stated the deals settled disputes with generic drug producers and had challenged the CMA fine before a British appeal court, which sought guidance with the EU courtroom about whether these settlements would possibly breach competition guidelines.

“A deal in settlement of a patent dispute could constitute a restriction of competitors,” the court’s authorized adviser said.

“Coming into such an agreement could also be an abuse of a dominant position,” she added, in her opinion.

Typically the court confirms in its definitive decisions the opinions issued by its consultants.