Mexico watchdog finds big pharma faces no competition on some drugs

Mexico watchdog finds big pharma faces no competition on some drugs

MEXICO CITY: Major drugmakers including GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Pfizer Inc and Sanofi SA use legal ways to stifle competition in Mexico from generics that are readily available elsewhere, a senior Mexican antitrust official said on Wednesday.

The companies have done nothing illegal, Juan Manuel Espino, Cofece's director of economic studies, said at a presentation of the body's probe into the Mexican drugs market, which found regulatory failings contributed to a lack of competition.

The report, released by Cofece on Wednesday, found that pharmaceutical firms use legal strategies to extend drug exclusivity after patents expire.

According to a document seen by Reuters, Cofece also identified other pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca Plc , Merck & Co Inc , Novartis AG , Janssen-Cilag SA, Abbott Laboratories, Roche Holdings AG and Eli Lilly and Co .

Resolving the situation could save Mexican consumers 2.5 billion pesos (US$139 million) a year, Cofece said.

"The cost of medicines for Mexican families is onerous," Cofece President Alejandra Palacios said at the event in Mexico City.

None of the firms identified by Cofece immediately responded to requests for comment.

(Additional reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)

Source: Reuters