Five pharmaceutical companies have been fined €13.4m ($14.1m) by the European Commission as part of an antitrust cartel settlement revolving around a key ingredient for the antispasmodic drug, Buscopan.

The European Commission (EC) has confirmed that Alkaloids of Australia, Alkaloids Corporation, Boehringer, Linnea, and Transo-Pharm all admitted involvement in the cartel and agreed to settle the investigation with the fine.

A sixth company, C2 Pharma, was also involved in the plot but was not fined as it revealed the cartel to the EC under the leniency programme.

The EC investigation revolved around N-butylbromide scopolamine/ hyoscine (SNBB), an important input material used to produce the abdominal antispasmodic drug, Buscopan, as well as its generic versions.

The investigation found that the six companies had coordinated and agreed to fix the minimum sales price of SNBB to customers, as well as allocate quotas. Additionally, the six companies exchanged commercially sensitive information.

In a statement, the EC said that the investigation revealed the existence of a single and continuous infringement in the European Economic Area, spanning from 1 November 2005 to 17 September 2019.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

EC Commissioner Didier Reynders said: “Today, we impose a fine on companies for illegally coordinating prices and allocating quotas for an active pharmaceutical ingredient used to produce widely prescribed drugs. This is our first cartel decision in such an important sector, where competition is essential to provide access to affordable medicines.”

The EC’s investigation was initially triggered by an application under the 2006 Leniency Notice submitted by C2 Pharma in April 2019. The Commission’s Leniency programme gives companies the opportunity to disclose their participation in a cartel and cooperate with the EC during an investigation. As a result, C2 was able to avoid the fine.

When setting the €13.4m fine, the EC took into account the value of SNBB sales relating to the infringement, the nature of the infringement and its multifaceted features, its geographic scope and its duration.

This has been the first time that the EC has sanctioned a cartel in the pharmaceutical sector, as well as in relation to an active ingredient.