Merck Gets Stuck With Fred Hassan’s €15 Million “Bar Tab” — In Europe — For (Allegedly) Blocking Generic Subutex®

The French section of the EU’s Competition Commission has levied a fine of €15.3 million, or roughly $21 million, against legacy Schering-Plough, for its now more than seven year old efforts to block the entrance of generic competitors to Subutex®, by disparaging competitors in the marketplace — via an allegedly well-organized smear campaign. Subutex (the generic version is known to chemists as the compound buprenorphine, with or without a hydrochloride variant) is an expensive drug used to treat narcotics addictions, on the continent. Merck may or may not appeal that ruling, according to a spokeswoman at Whitehouse Station (per Reuters reporting).

And. . . huge surprise (not!) — those efforts to (allegedly) restrain lawful price competition occured under Fred, Cary, Tom, Tom and Brent’s stellar “leadership” — at pre-merger Schering-Plough. Ugh.

Here’s the relevant bit, from Capital.gr — but do go read it all:

. . . .France’s competition authority Thursday fined Schering-Plough, [now] a unit of U.S. drug giant Merck & Co., 15.3 million euros ($20.94 million), for allegedly attempting to block generic competition for its narcotic addiction treatment, Subutex.

The authority said in a statement that Schering-Plough, colluded with its supplier, the consumer-products maker Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC to elbow out of the market Arrow Group’s generic version of Subutex. . . .

The actual financial amount of the fine is not remotely material, but the black eye (reputation damage) in Europe — of being seen as a bully, and a price gouger, is (once again) disappointing. The $21 million is also — as irony would have it — about what Fred paid himself, per year, while at Schering-Plough, all in.

To my experienced eye, it is just more of the Fast Fred Hassan legacy, and a sad one, at that. [Ed. Note: Not feeling Christmas at all today — all rather blue. . . so I’ll likely fall silent a bit here. Maybe a Sing-Along Messiah will do the trick — tonight. We shall see.]

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