‘What Is “Exceptional” About Pharma? An Analysis of Recent EU Competition Policy’

Following on from our special midweek seminar, we are delighted to welcome Margaret Kyle (Toulouse School of Economics) as our guest at the Centre. On Friday 7th February, Margaret will be asking ‘What is “Exceptional” about Pharma? An Analysis of Recent EU Competition Policy‘. An abstract for Margaret’s seminar can be found below.


As in most innovative sectors, balancing the incentives created by intellectual property rights with the static costs of market power is a challenge for competition authorities. I examine two areas in the pharmaceutical sector that have received considerable attention in recent years: patent thickets and associated responses, such as “pay for delay” and authorized generics, and reactions to parallel trade. I argue that patent settlements in pharmaceuticals should not be treated exceptionally, as they are very similar to settlements in other innovative industries. Rather than prohibiting all such settlements, antitrust authorities must assess the potential anticompetitive effects of each individual case. In contrast, the pharmaceutical sector does merit exceptional treatment in the case of parallel trade. Unlike other products, drugs face national-level price controls throughout the European Union. Such policies are inconsistent with the existence of a common European market, and parallel trade is an inefficient and inappropriate means of achieving the dubious goal of a common EU price.

The seminar will take place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 1.1.

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