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ACM launches preliminary investigations in the prescription drug sector

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has sent requests for information to three companies in the prescription drug sector. ACM has done so following reports about practices that possibly distort competition. These companies are required to provide ACM the requested information. The requests concern, among other things, drugs with very high prices, and the conditions under which products and services are sold to health care providers.

What is this case about?

Innovative drugs contribute tremendously to the improvement of people’s lives. And drug manufacturers are allowed to earn money with such drugs. However, manufacturers sometimes charge very high prices for drugs that did not involve high development costs or the kinds of innovations that are in the interest of patients. Such high prices unnecessarily drive up the costs for society. With regard to several drugs, ACM has launched investigations into possibly excessive prices.

In addition, ACM has received reports that health care providers are faced with unreasonable conditions when taking out products and services, or that they can only take out certain services in a bundle. The latter involves paying for services they do not require. ACM believes that reasonable prices and conditions are important for patients, health care providers, and insurers, and, as such, for the functioning of the health care system in general. ACM is critical of such practices, and has therefore launched these preliminary investigations.

What are the next steps?

ACM will assess the information that it receives from the companies. That assessment will reveal whether in-depth investigations are needed. If ACM establishes that the companies involved have violated the Dutch Competition Act, ACM can impose fines or orders subject to periodic penalty payments. In our experience, these kinds of investigations are time-consuming.

ACM and prescription drugs

ACM has had the drug sector on its radar for some time now. This sector plays a key role in keeping high-quality care affordable and accessible. That is why ACM finds it important to ensure that this sector functions properly, and, for example, that no dominant positions are abused. Over the past few years, ACM has promoted fair competition and combated high prices in the drug sector in various ways.

Tip-offs and reports about distortion of competition and too high prices of drugs

Hospitals, buyer groups, and companies or people working in the drug sector have the opportunity to submit tip-offs to or file reports with ACM regarding distortions of competition or unjustifiably high prices for prescription drugs. They can also do so anonymously. Submitting your tip-off to ACM.

See also