CMA Accuses Merck of Restricting Access to Remicade Biosimilars in UK

May 24, 2017

The Competition and Market’s Authority is accusing Merck Sharp & Dohme of offering a discount for Remicade that may have restricted the sale of biosimilar competition in the UK.

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is accusing Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited (MSD) of operating an “anti-competitive discount scheme” for its inflammatory disease medication Remicade (infliximab), CMA said in a May 23, 2017 statement. CMA said it provisionally found that MSD broke the UK’s competition law by offering a discount for Remicade that could restrict the sale of new biosimilar competition.

An individual with knowledge of the case told Reuters MSD allegedly gave discounts to customers who continued to purchase Remicade at similar quantities, but did not give discounts to customers who began buying biosimilars. This may have given customers incentive not to switch to biosimilar versions of the drug, Reuters reported. CMA began investigating MSD in December 2015 and stressed that its findings were still provisional.

In a statement, MSD said it is “confident that the proceedings will show that MSD has complied with competition law at all times.” The company said that the discounts mentioned in the CMA case meant that Remicade was priced competitively and offered savings to the UK National Health Service.

According to Merck’s 2016 financial report, Remicade suffered a 29% downturn in sales from the previous year, primarily due to biosimilar competition in Europe. Janssen Biotech markets Remicade in the United States and has also experienced competition from newly approved biosimilars, although the drug remains a top seller for the company.

Source: CMA, MSD, Reuters