High Court asks the EC to provide information under Articles 101 and 102 TFEU against Servier

24 Jan 2012 | by Caroline Sweeney

Christopher Vajda QC and Philip Woolfe, instructed by Peters & Peters, are acting for the English NHS in proceedings against Servier for the alleged illegal extension of a patent protection relating to Servier’s product, Perindopril, a drug designed to combat high blood pressure and coronary artery diseases.  The claim alleges infringements of both Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. The patent extension has meant that cheaper generic versions of the drug were not able to reach the market. The NHS’s claim is for over £200m in damages. The European Commission started parallel proceedings against Servier in July 2009. Servier has applied to stay the High Court proceedings pending the outcome of the Commission proceedings. Before deciding on the issue of a stay and the terms of any stay the High Court has sought information from the European Commission pursuant to Article 15 of Regulation 1/2003 on the progress of the Commission’s proceedings. The Commission has been asked to respond by 8 March prior to the matter being relisted on 17 April. The High Court also ordered disclosure of alleged anti-competitive agreements between Servier and a number of generic companies.

Christopher Vajda QC and Philip Woolfe are also acting in another claim for the NHS for damages for abuse of a dominant position in relation to the supply of Gaviscon against Reckitt Benckiser. Last year the OFT fined Reckitt Benckiser £10m over its supply of Gaviscon to the NHS for abusing its dominant market position in the supply of heartburn remedies by restricting competition.  Reckitt withdrew cheaper alternatives as their patents had expired, therefore limiting the choice available to prescribing pharmacists.