The aim of the protection of market competition is primarily to create benefits for consumers and equal conditions for all entrepreneurs on the market, who, acting in accordance with the existing rules and competing on the market with the quality, price and innovation of their products and services, contribute to the overall development of the economy.

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Report from the Commission to the council and the European parliament update on competition enforcement in the pharmaceutical sector (2018-2022)

This Report provides an overview of how the Commission and the national competition authorities of the EU Member States (‘European competition authorities’) have enforced EU antitrust and merger rules concerning medicines and certain other medical products in the period 2018-2022.

It also reports on how EU competition law served to protect undertakings and consumers during the challenging period of the Covid-19 crisis. It is a follow-up to the previously published Report covering the years 2009-2017.

In the period covered by this report, from 2018 until 2022, the European competition authorities together adopted 26 antitrust decisions related to pharmaceutical products. These decisions led to sanctions (with fines nearing EUR 780 million) or made binding commitments to remedy anti-competitive behaviour. Some of these decisions addressed anti-competitive practices that had previously not been addressed under EU competition law. These precedents give guidance to industry players on how to ensure that they comply with EU competition rules. In 2018-2022, European competition authorities also investigated more than 40 pharma cases which were closed without an infringement or commitment decision, while some 30 cases of possible anti-competitive infringements in the pharmaceutical sector are currently being examined.

To ensure that pharmaceutical markets do not get too concentrated due to mergers, the Commission reviewed more than 30 transactions in the pharmaceutical sector. Competition concerns were detected in 5 of these merger cases. The Commission cleared 4 of these mergers only after the companies offered to modify their merger transaction, while one merger was abandoned.

Examples of antitrust and merger cases illustrate how close competition law scrutiny of the pharmaceutical sector and competition law enforcement help to safeguard EU patients’ access to affordable and innovative medicines.

You can find and download the full text of this EU publication in English/French/German and other languages here