France’s competition authority is investigating Novartis AG and Roche Holding AG for possible collusion to prevent the use of Roche’s Avastin cancer drug as a treatment for an eye disease, the health-care ministry said.
French Health Minister Marisol Touraine wrote a letter to Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici at the end of 2012 urging him to ask the competition authority to investigate the matter, Henri Pitron, an official at the Health Ministry, said in a phone interview. The Finance Ministry proceeded with the request and the regulator’s investigation is “ongoing,” Pitron said.
Roche and Novartis are under scrutiny after Italy’s antitrust regulator said last week it fined the two Basel, Switzerland-based companies 182.5 million euros ($253 million) for alleged collusion on the medicine. Novartis must pay 92 million euros and Roche 90.5 million euros, the agency said.
“The subject isn’t closed,” Eric Le Berrigaud, an analyst at Bryan Garnier & Co. in Paris, said in a telephone interview. Scrutiny from other countries will “in all likelihood” continue, he said.
Roche and Novartis blocked distribution of Avastin in favor of a more expensive drug, Lucentis, that the two companies market jointly for an eye malady known as wet age-related macular degeneration, the Italian regulator said last week. (Más)