UK Competition and Markets Authority deems pay-for-delay deal illegal and imposes £45m in fines

Pharmaceutical firms GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Generics UK and Alpharma have collectively been fined £45 million by the UK Competition and Markets Authority for delaying generic competition of GSK’s blockbuster antidepressant Seroxat (paroxetine).

The regulator found that the companies entered illegal agreements between 2001 and 2004, whereby Generics UK and Alpharma agreed to hold off from introducing generic versions of paroxetine in exchange for large payouts and GSK dropping patent infringement lawsuits. GSK has been fined £38 million, Generics UK £6 million and Alpharma £1.5 million.

The suit is the latest in a series of such cases, as competition authorities in Europe and the US have cracked down on similar pay-for-delay agreements. While not automatically illegal, such deals tread a fine line between legitimate out-of-court settlements and anticompetitive behaviour.