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CCI orders probe on Roche’s alleged monopoly

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said that the Roche group tried to block market access for Biocon Ltd and Mylan Pharmaceuticals’s generic biotech drugs of its Trastuzumab drug used in the treatment for early breast cancer and metastatic gastric cancer.

CCI said in its interim order that it had enough reason to order an investigation by its director-general into whether the Roche group abused its dominant position in the market. It cautioned that this order should not construed as “expression of final opinion on the merits of the case.”

Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Biocon approached the competition regulator in July 2016 alleging anti-competitive conduct by Roche to protect and maintain its monopoly on Trastuzumab. They said that Roche using its dominant position has written to doctors and authorities on safety of their biosimilars to impede their entry and growth.

“When seen collectively in the background of surrounding facts and circumstances, they (letters and communications to authorities and doctors) only appear to be a part of the bigger plan/strategy of Roche Group to eliminate competition posed by biosimilars to Roche’s products in the relevant market,” said the CCI order.

“Creating any iota of doubt in the minds of doctors can adversely affect the market for biosimilars, which is prescription induced, is beyond repair. Such disparagement may also have ripple effects within the medical community. In this scenario, those biosimilar manufacturers who do not have strong marketing channels amongst doctors may be forced out of the market because of abusive denigration by a dominant player,” said the CCI order.

“Prima facie, it appears to the Commission that Roche Group has shirked such responsibility (of a dominant player) and indulged in abusive conduct, “ the order said.

Though the commission could not find any other allegations like Unfair Pricing by Roche, it noted that companies which are smaller in size and does not have a proper distribution channel will be affected by Roche’s move and approach. The spokesperson for Roche said that the company is reviewing the order and will act accordingly.

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