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“LUCENTIS” DECISIONS OF THE TURKISH AND FRENCH COMPETITION AUTHORITIES WERE ANNULLED BY THE COURTS



As is known, Novartis and Roche were fined by the Turkish Competition Board in 2021 and by the French Competition Authority in 2020. The fines were imposed on the grounds that the relevant undertakings collectively acted to promote sales of Lucentis, which is more expensive, among Lucentis and Altuzan (Avastin).[1]


The Turkish Competition Board imposed a fine of approximately 165 million TRY on Novartis and approximately 113 million TRY on Roche. The French Competition Authority imposed a fine of approximately 385 million Euros on Novartis and 60 million Euros on Roche.


After the decisions of the competition authorities were challenged in the courts, The Turkish Competition Board’s decision was annulled by the Ankara 13th Administrative Court’s decision dated 30.12.2022 while the French Competition Authority’s decision was annulled by the Paris Court of Appeal’s decision dated 16.02.2023.


Ankara 13th Administrative Court concluded upon the challenge that the allegation regarding the concerted practice behavior of the relevant undertakings was not clearly proven, the required standard of proof for the acceptance of a cartel was not satisfied and information and documents provided within the file did not sufficiently prove the existence of a cartel.


It has been stated in the evaluation of the Paris Court of Appeal that the relevant undertakings did not act to denigrate Avastin medicine and they did not communications with French health authorities were not misleading. The Court concluded that the undertakings did not abuse their dominant position.


“Lucentis” decisions given by the different competition authorities in recent years have become an important issue in terms of the competition law practices in the pharmaceutical sector, and they have triggered important debates. As is known, previously the Italian Competition Authority imposed fines on Novartis and Roche firms for the same medicines and behaviors in 2014. In recent weeks, the Belgian Competition Authority announced that it has imposed fines on Novartis and Roche for the same reasons by its decision dated 24.01.2023.

[1] The relevant product is sold with “Altuzan” commercial name in Turkey while it is sold with “Avastin” commercial name in other countries.

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