Vifor Pharma Faces Antitrust Investigation by EU Commission
Swiss pharmaceutical company Vifor Pharma is facing a formal antitrust investigation by the European Commission on the suspicion that the company may have restricted competition by illegally disparaging its closest – and potentially only – competitor in Europe on the market for intravenous iron treatment, Pharmacosmos and its iron-deficiency treatment, Monofer.
Vifor Pharma’s conduct appears to be aimed at hindering competition against its blockbuster high-dose intravenous iron treatment medicine, Ferinject.
A statement issued by the Commission outlines it has indications that for many years, Vifor Pharma may have been disparaging Monofer by spreading misleading information regarding its safety. The Commission is concerned that Vifor Pharma pursued a misleading communication campaign, primarily targeting healthcare professionals, which may have unduly hindered Monofer’s uptake in the European Economic Area (EEA). Approximately 1.8 million patients suffering from iron deficiency are currently being treated with high-dose intravenous iron products annually in the EEA.
The investigation follows a complaint filed with the Commission by Pharmacosmos.
Vifor Pharma is a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Switzerland and operating from several subsidiaries in the EEA while Pharmacosmos is a smaller Danish family-owned specialist pharmaceutical company focused notably on the treatment of iron deficiency conditions.
EU Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said, “Competition in the pharmaceutical sector is important. It provides access to affordable and innovative medicines to patients. The dissemination of misleading information regarding the safety of Pharmacosmos’ iron deficiency treatment, Monofer, may have delayed its uptake. This would ultimately harm patients by stifling competition from an innovative medicine. Today we launched an in-depth investigation to assess whether this is the case”.
In a statement Vifor Pharma said, ‘We are fully cooperating with the European Commission during this process and are convinced that we have not engaged in any anti-competitive behaviour.’
It was announced in March, that Vifor Pharma is being acquired by Australian biotechnology leader CSL Limited.
This is the EU Commission’s second formal investigation into potential abuses relating to exclusionary disparagement of competing products in the pharmaceutical industry. In March 2021, the Commission opened a formal investigation into possible anticompetitive conduct of Teva in relation to a blockbuster multiple sclerosis medicine.