Vendors appeal Spanish fines for alleged price fixing

January 10, 2005

Four companies that manufacture and supply radiopharmaceutical products are appealing a decision by Spanish authorities that they were guilty of price fixing sales to a Madrid hospital. If the appeal fails, they face fines totaling €1 million ($1.3 million).

Four companies that manufacture and supply radiopharmaceutical products are appealing a decision by Spanish authorities that they were guilty of price fixing sales to a Madrid hospital. If the appeal fails, they face fines totaling €1 million ($1.3 million).

The case against the Spanish subsidiaries of Amersham Health (now part of GE Healthcare), Tyco Healthcare, Schering, and Madrid-based Nucliber was brought by Madrid's Hospital Universitario Gregorio Marañón. The hospital claimed in submissions to Spain's competition defense tribunal (TDC) that the four had fixed the prices of their radiopharmaceuticals while competing as part of a request for proposal issued by the hospital in January 2001.

Although TDC judges found no evidence of direct collusion among the companies, they ruled that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that some sort of agreement had been made. The TDC concluded that pricing similarities in tenders at levels far above the hospital's ceiling price could not be sheer coincidence. In response, they levied a €250,000 ($335,000) fine on each defendant.

DI SCAN has been told that all four companies are in the process of appealing the decision, which was made in August 2004. The appeals have been lodged independently.

"Schering SA has already announced the intention to appeal the ruling. It has also declared that there was no price fixing with other companies," a spokesperson for Schering AG said.

The other companies are taking the same hard-line stance.

"GE Healthcare does not accept the ruling and the conclusions reached," a GE spokesperson said.

Appeals against the judgment and the fine, which is on hold pending further action by the four companies, will be considered by Spanish authorities in 2005. Information about the case is subject to reporting restrictions. DI SCAN was unable to confirm specific details of the tenders subject to legal scrutiny, including the radiopharmaceutical products or prices offered to Hospital Universitario Gregorio Marañón.

"We can make no further comment at the moment because this matter is confidential and because there is nothing to say other than we strongly disagree with the decision and we have appealed," a Tyco Healthcare spokesperson said.