Commission fines parent companies Johnson & Johnson and Novartis

On 10 December 2013 the European Commission (“Commission”) imposed fines of a total amount of over EUR 16 Mio against two companies in the pharmaceutical industry for delaying the introduction of the generic analgesic Fentanyl into the market.

The parent companies Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) and Novartis AG (“Novartis”) were also held jointly and severally liable for their subsidiaries, namely Janssen-Cilag BV (“Janssen”), who was fined EUR 10,8 Mio, and Sandoz BV (“Sandoz”), who was fined of EUR 5,5 Mio.

Janssen and Sandoz had agreed between 2005 and 2006 to delay the commercial launch of a cheaper generic version of the analgesic Fentanyl. J&J had paid Novartis for this agreement.

Fentanyl is an analgesic developed by Janssen in the sixties. The relevant patent rights in the Netherlands came to an end in 2005 and Sandoz was about to introduce a cheaper generic analgesic on the market. However, Janssen had offered Sandoz a generous offer of monthly payments in order to hinder the commercial launch of the generic analgesic. This agreement was only terminated when another company introduced a different generic analgesic to the market.

Taxpayers who finance the Dutch health care system and patients paid artificially high prices for such delay of introduction to the market.

The Commission continues to investigate in particular such “pay-for-delay” agreements.



Dr. Christina Hummer
Ori Kahn