The European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies has filed a complaint with the European Commission alleging that the world’s number one drug company, Pfizer, is breaking EU competition law by employing a strategy which prevents the export of medicines from Spain to other EU nations.

“Pfizer’s actions are in clear breach of EU competition rules. This is a straightforward case for the Commission to uphold competition in the pharmaceutical sector,” Hans Bogh-Sorensen, EAEPC President, said in a statement.

According to the EAEPC, which aims to safeguard the free movement of medicines in the EU, Pfizer’s recent actions - representing a dual-pricing system and an export ban - are part of a long-term strategy to section the EU market for drugs.

The group says that Pfizer’s dominant position in the Spanish market allows it to control the actions of its wholesalers. This enables the firm to sell its drugs at a price to wholesalers over that agreed with Spanish authorities, but then offer rebates if they are sold in Spain rather than exported, signifying a non-transparent dual price - one for the domestic market and one for export, the EAEPC explains.

Thilo Bauroth, head of the EAEPC legal affairs team, commented: “The European Commission has consistently ruled that dual-pricing hinders exports and distorts the internal market. Due to its commercial strength Pfizer has incentivised a limited number of wholesalers to agree contractually to export bans - this strategy also has a European rather than solely national impact and so should be investigated at a European level.”

Pfizer has rejected these claims, stating that the new supply system is in full compliance with applicable Spanish and EU laws, including EU competition rules, reports Reuters.