Pfizer, Lilly and Bayer fined for price-fixing in Switzerland
BERN, Switzerland—The Swiss branches of Pfizer Inc., Eli Lilly & Co. and Bayer AG may have to open their wallets after they were fined a total of $5.7 million by competition regulators on Dec. 1 for alleged price-fixing of drugs for erectile dysfunction.
The Swiss Competition Commission contends that the prices for Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil) and Levitra (vardenafil) were fixed via public price recommendations.
The commission didn't say how much each company was fined, and declined to provide the information.
The commission concluded in February, after a lengthy investigation that began in June 2006, that the firms made "inadmissible vertical competition agreements" by maintaining a recommended public selling price for the drugs.
The three companies rejected the allegation.
"Bayer (Schweiz) AG categorically rejects the allegation that it is involved in fixing prices of any kind. Bayer AG has not reached any agreements or arrangements concerning retail prices with pharmacies or dispensing doctors," Bayer spokesman Helmut Schäfers said in a statement.
"Bayer AG is convinced that it has acted in compliance with current Swiss legislation and is considering further legal action against the decision by Weko," he concluded.
"We are surprised by the decision and we believe the public price recommendation for Cialis was in full compliance with Swiss competition law," Petra Streit, an Eli Lilly spokeswoman, said in a statement.
"We're of the opinion that this decision will not survive a court examination," Pfizer noted in a statement.
The Swiss Competition Commission is an independent federal authority charged with the task of combating harmful cartels, monitoring dominant companies for signs of anti-competitive conduct, enforcing merger control legislation and preventing the imposition of restraints of competition by the state.