Excessive Pharmaceutical Prices as an Anticompetitive Practice – Reviving Compulsory Licensing in Competition Law & Antitrust

Published in "New Developments in Competition Law and Economics" Series, edited by Klaus Mathis and Avishalom Tor, Springer Verlag 2019

24 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2018 Last revised: 9 Jan 2021

See all articles by Behrang Kianzad

Behrang Kianzad

University of Copenhagen - Centre for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law (CeBIL)

Date Written: March 15, 2019

Abstract

The issue of securing access to patented pharmaceutical products has been in the forefront of global legal debate for many years. This debate intensified further following the enactment of the TRIPS agreement and the global enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights such as patents through the World Trade Organization. To combat the problem, compulsory licensing has been forwarded as one solution, though hitherto mainly discussed from the human rights and right to health perspectives. Less attention has been focused on excessive prices of medicines as an anticompetitive practice in and out of themselves, and how competition law and legal-economics theories and models can inform this deadlocked issue.

Such a treatment of excessive prices under competition law would constitute a sound legal basis for anti-competitive enforcement such as compulsory licensing but also make other tools available to competition authorities such as fines. This could be done making use of the flexibilities entailed in this regard in the TRIPS agreement context, mainly through article 31(k) and article 40.

Shifting focus to the European Competition Law, the notion of “unfair” or excessive prices has been enshrined in article 102 TFEU regarding exploitative pricing abuses by a dominant firm, although the application and enforcement of this has been rather limited in practice. Recent case law and an evolution of thought regarding competition law and legal-economics theories point however to a possible policy shift in this regard.

The paper hence analyzes the unlocked potential entailed in competition law in treating excessive pharmaceutical prices as an anticompetitive practice where applicable and discusses the legal-economic theories underpinning this discourse.

Keywords: excessive prices, excessive pricing, pharmaceutical prices, pharmaceutical excessive prices, competition law, antitrust law, law and economics, legal economics, EU Competition Law, EU Intellectual Property Law, Article 102 TFEU, Article 102, TRIPS, Compulsory Licensing

Suggested Citation

Kianzad, Behrang, Excessive Pharmaceutical Prices as an Anticompetitive Practice – Reviving Compulsory Licensing in Competition Law & Antitrust (March 15, 2019). Published in "New Developments in Competition Law and Economics" Series, edited by Klaus Mathis and Avishalom Tor, Springer Verlag 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3272243

Behrang Kianzad (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Centre for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law (CeBIL) ( email )

Karen Blixens Plads 16
Copenhagen S, 2300
Denmark

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