Competition Council starts investigation into immunoglobulin market; inspections in Romania, Belgium and Italy

Anca Alexe 02/07/2018 | 16:03

The Romanian Competition Council has launched an investigation into a possible deal between manufacturers and holders of permits to sell normal human immunoglobulin products: Biotest Pharma GmbH Germania, Octapharma Pharmazeutika Produktionsges Mbh Austria, Octapharma S.A.S. France, Octapharma AB Sweden, Octapharma (IP) Limited UK, CSL Behring Gmbh Germany, Kedrion Spa Italy, Baxter SA Belgium, Baxalta Belgium Manufacturing SA Belgium, Baxter AG Austria. As part of this investigation, simultaneous unannounced inspections were carried out in Romania, Belgium and Italy.

Companies targeted by the investigations are members of the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA), which represents the industry’s interests.

The investigation is looking into a possible anti-competitional behavior consisting of the adoption of a coordinated strategy between these companies, by limiting and disrupting the supply of normal human immunoglobin with the purpose of eliminating the clawback tax and obtaining a more favorable fiscal framework and hence improving their profit margins.

Immunoglobulin is a substance manufactured from the plasma in human blood, serving an essential role in the human body’s immune system. Immunoglobulin attacks foreign bodies like bacteria and assists in their destruction. Normal immunoglobulins are included on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicine.

As part of the investigation, simultaneous unannounced inspections were also conducted in Belgium and Italy. Competition authorities in the two states carried out inspections at companies Kedrion in Italy and PPTA in Brussels, at the request of the Romanian Competition Council, with the assistance of Romanian inspectors.

Unannounced inspections are authorized by a warrant issued by a judge and they are justified through the need of obtaining all information and documents needed to clarify possible anti-competitional practices.

This is the second case where the Competition Council asks for assistance from EU competition authorities in an investigation. In 2017, it conducted an investigation in the aviation insurance market, during which information was collected from companies in Romania and the UK.

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