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Brussels, 9 th December 2009

Antitrust: Commission confirms surprise inspections in the pharmaceutical sector

The European Commission can confirm that on 9 December 2009 Commission officials started surprise inspections at the premises of several companies active in the pharmaceutical industry in several Member States. The Commission has reason to believe that the provisions of the EC Treaty prohibiting restrictive business practices and/or the abuse of a dominant position (Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union - TFEU) may have been infringed.

During such inspections, Commission officials are accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.

Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in the investigation of suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that the European Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The European Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in the Commission’s proceedings against them.

There is no strict deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence

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