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French drug giant Servier slammed with massive fine

media The Servier laboratory building in Gily, near Orleans. AFP PHOTO/Guillaume Souvant

The European Union fined French drugs giant Servier with a 331 million euro fine on Wednesday for blocking a cheaper generic version of popular blood pressure treatment Perindopril.

The European Commission said in a statement that the decision involves a total of 427.7 million euros with Israel-based Teva and four other companies also subject to penalties.

Servier is suspected of colluding to delay the generic and thusly cheaper version of Perindopril.

The anticompetitive allegations stemmed from a comprehensive EU probe into the pharmaceutical industry ongoing since 2008.

The inquiry was launched over concerns that generic drugs were taking too long to hit the market.

On average, generic drugs cost 40 per cent less than their branded versions two years after they enter the market.

So-called pay-for-delay tactics are employed by branded drugs to stifle competition and safeguard their own profits from their lower-cost, but just as effective generic versions.

The other implicated companies include Indian companies Unichem and its subsidiary Niche and Lupin , US company Mylan Laboratories (formerly Matrix), and Slovenia's Krka.

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