EC Questions Dual Pricing

December 1, 2001
Kevin Gopal
Pharmaceutical Executive
Volume 0, Issue 0

Brussels, Belgium-Pfizer believes the dual pricing system it introduced in Spain complies with Spanish and European Union competition laws, but the European Commission isn't so sure. Competition policy commissioner Mario Monti says the EC will scrutinize Pfizer's pricing policy, which is intended to prevent parallel trade out of low-cost Spain.

Brussels, Belgium-Pfizer believes the dual pricing system it introduced in Spain complies with Spanish and European Union competition laws, but the European Commission isn't so sure. Competition policy commissioner Mario Monti says the EC will scrutinize Pfizer's pricing policy, which is intended to prevent parallel trade out of low-cost Spain.

The investigation will initially determine whether the policy is similar to GlaxoSmithKline's practice of charging Spanish wholesalers more for medicines destined for export rather than for the home market. The commission ruled against GSK's policy earlier this year.

Colette Graham, Pfizer's European corporate media relations director, refused to comment on whether the company's pricing policy was similar to GSK's. But she said it was based on a price with provision for reduction, adding, "We believe it is consistent with Spanish and EU competition rules."

In a speech at an EC-sponsored competition day conference in Antwerp, Monti said Brussels had pursued a merciless campaign against industries and companies that have sought to prevent parallel trade. However, he said, "The industry is tenacious. And it asks the courts in Luxembourg to declare that the pharmaceutical sector is so different that the commission's parallel trade policy has no raison d'etre.

"Leaving aside the details, we take the view that the industry is wrong: first, in contending that parallel trade in medicines harms consumers and second, in arguing that the commission's policy brings no benefits at all for consumers in the high-price countries."