EU regulators investigate Vifor Pharma over anti-competitive behaviour

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, June 20 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are investigating whether Vifor Pharma VIFN.S , which is being acquired by CSL Ltd CSL.AX , disparaged its rival Pharmacosmos in order to hinder competition to its blockbuster iron medicine Ferinject.

The European Commission, which opened the probe on Monday, said it has indications of this behaviour going on for many years, which may be in breach of EU rules against companies abusing their dominant position.

The EU competition enforcer said it was concerned that Vifor Pharma pursued a misleading communication campaign, primarily targeting healthcare professionals.

"The dissemination of misleading information regarding the safety of Pharmacosmos' iron deficiency treatment, Monofer, may have delayed its uptake. This would ultimately harm patients by stifling competition from an innovative medicine," Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

Officials at Vifor Pharma were not immediately available for comment on the matter.

Some 1.8 million people are treated with high-dose intravenous iron products for iron deficiency annually in Europe.

Australian biopharmaceutical giant CSL announced its $11.7 billion bid in December last year, which will give it access to Vifor's treatments for iron deficiency, kidney and cardio-renal diseases, and production sites in Switzerland and Portugal.
Additional reporting by Marine Strauss in Brussels and Paul Arnold in Zurich; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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