AMSTERDAM (AP) - The European Commission has fined pharmaceuticals giants Johnson & Johnson and Novartis a combined $22 million for colluding to delay the entrance of a cheap generic form of a pain killer to the Dutch market.
In a statement, the Commission's antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, said the two companies "shockingly deprived patients in the Netherlands, including people suffering from cancer, from access to a cheaper version of this medicine."
The Commission found that after Johnson & Johnson's patent on a patch containing the drug Fentanyl expired in 2005, it paid Novartis to delay launching a generic version. The delay lasted 17 months, and was more profitable for both companies than competing honestly would have been.
J&J's fine was 10.7 million euros ($14.7 million), and Novartis' was 5.5 million euros.