The European Commission has revealed this morning that it has carried out new raids on the offices of pharmaceutical companies that allegedly delayed market entry of generics.

On November 30, Commission officials say they carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of "a limited number of companies active in the pharmaceutical sector in several member states". The EC said it has "reason to believe that the companies concerned may have acted individually or jointly, notably to delay generic entry for a particular medicine".

If confirmed, this would represent "a potential violation of European Union antitrust rules that prohibit restrictive business practices and/or the abuse of a dominant market position", the Commission added, noting that its officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.

The Commission did not identify the drugmakers involved but AstraZeneca is one of them. The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker sent PharmaTimes World News a statement saying “we can confirm we are subject of inspections by certain competition authorities which relate to alleged practices regarding [the antiulcerant] esomeprazole (Nexium) in Europe". AstraZeneca added that "we are cooperating with the authorities", saying that it takes "compliance with all laws seriously and has a fundamental commitment to doing business in an ethical and proper manner".

The Commission noted that there is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct.