February 5, 2024

CMA begins investigation of Vifor Pharma

On January 31, 2024, the UK Competition and Markets Authority initiated an investigation into Vifor Pharma, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Australia.  Under Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998, which prohibits any abuse of a dominant position that affects trade within the United Kingdom, the CMA may launch an investigation if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an infringement of competition law has occurred.  According to the CMA, Vifor may have made misleading statements about the safety and efficacy of Monofer, an anaemia treatment that competes in the market with Vifor’s product, Ferinject.  If so, such statements may operate to stifle competition in the supply of iron treatments to the UK National Health Service.  No conclusions have been drawn yet.  The CMA will spend the next months gathering and analyzing information; it estimates that the initial stages of the investigation will conclude around November 2024.

In June 2022, the European Commission announced an investigation  into a similar practice of possible anti-competitive disparagement of Monofer by Vifor in the European Economic Area, noting in a press release that “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.”  If the Commission’s concerns prove to be well-founded, then Vifor’s conduct may constitute an abuse of dominant position, thus infringing Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and Article 54 of the European Economic Area Agreement.

The CMA has indicated that it will liaise with the European Commission to advance the investigation.

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