Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been accused of market “abuse” by the consumer watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The OFT alleges that the company paid rivals to delay the release their own versions of GSK’s antidepressant drug Seroxat (paroxetine).
Alpharma, Generics UK and Norton Healthcare all received money not to enter the market with their copies of Seroxat.
Seroxat is a drug used to treat depression.
The generic drug makers were attempting to supply the UK market with their versions of paroxetine, which GlaxoSmithKline brands as Seroxat, the OFT said.
GSK accused them of infringing its patent, so to resolve this dispute the pharmaceutical company effectively paid the three companies off, according to the OFT.
If proven, the allegations would be an infringement on the part of all the parties of competition law and on the part of GSK an abuse of its dominant place in the market.
“The introduction of generic medicines can lead to strong competition on price, which can drive savings for the NHS, to the benefit of patients and, ultimately, taxpayers,” said Ann Pope, senior director of services, infrastructure and public markets at the OFT.
“It is therefore particularly important that the OFT fully investigates concerns that independent generic entry may have been delayed in this case.”
The companies will now be asked to respond to its allegations, before the OFT makes a decision on whether or not competition law has been infringed.