UK CMA accuses Merck of breaking competition law with discount scheme


The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has accused US pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) of operating an anti-competitive discount scheme for its medicine Remicade.

Remicade is the brand name for MSD’s version of a biological medicine called infliximab, which is used to treat patients suffering from gastroenterology and rheumatology conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the provisional investigation, which opened in December 2015, CMA found that MSD violated competition law by starting the discount scheme for Remicade that can affect other ‘biosimilar’ versions of infliximab, which are comparatively new to the market.

The UK competition watchdog noted that it has completed only a provisional investigation based on preliminary findings, which should not be concluded as absolute and final.

CMA will look into the representations by MSD before determining the final verdict.

The authority has proposed to find MSD and its parent company Merck & Co., ‘jointly and severally liable for the alleged infringement’.

"In response to the provisional decision, MSD said in a statement that the company is confident the proceedings will show it has complied with competition law at all times."

In response to the provisional decision, MSD said in a statement that the company is confident the proceedings will show it has complied with competition law at all times.

The company noted that the discounts on Remicade were competitively priced and offered savings to the UK National Health Service (NHS) without affecting competition.

MSD also stated that it is fully cooperating with the CMA in the ongoing investigation.

Headquartered in Kenilworth, New Jersey, MSD focuses on developing medicines and vaccines for challenging diseases.


Image: The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) sets out its provisional findings relating to discounts offered by MSD on sales of Remicade (infliximab). Photo: © Crown copyright.