Teva offices in Jerusalem
Teva offices in JerusalemFlash 90

The European Commission announced on Thursday that Israeli drug-maker Teva is being investigated by EU antitrust regulators over whether it illegally hindered rivals’ access to its multiple sclerosis medicine Copaxone, Reuters reports.

According to the announcement, the probe will look into whether Teva has abused its dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules, which could lead to hefty fines.

The European Commission said Teva may have artificially extended the market exclusivity of Copaxone by strategically filing and withdrawing patents after the 2015 expiry of a basic patent covering ingredient glatiramer acetate which is used in the drug.

This repeatedly blocked the entry of its generic competitor who was obliged to file a new legal challenge each time.

Teva said it was cooperating with the Commission.

“We do not believe that Teva adopted anti-competitive behaviors in relation to Copaxone,” it said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

Teva, which has been fined twice in recent years for pay-for-delay deals, could face a sanction up to 10% of its global turnover and an additional deterrent fine if found guilty of breaching EU rules.

In November, European Union regulators fined Teva for colluding to delay a cheaper generic version of modafinil, a blockbuster sleep disorder drug.

Teva settled similar litigation with US anti-trust authorities in 2015. Last year, it vowed to defend itself after being accused of orchestrating price-fixing among drug-makers in a US antitrust lawsuit.

In 2018, the Israeli justice ministry fined Teva $22 million for bribing foreign officials to win business in Russia, Ukraine and Mexico, rather than pressing charges in court against the drug-maker.