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Italy Probes Novartis and Roche Over Eye Drug Competition

 |  June 11, 2024

Italy’s antitrust regulator announced on Thursday the launch of an investigation into several pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis and Roche-controlled Genentech, over potential anti-competitive practices related to the sale of an eye drug. The probe focuses on whether these companies coordinated to restrict competition and delay the introduction of Byooviz, a biosimilar developed by Samsung Bioepis.

The watchdog’s investigation targets biopharma developer Samsung Bioepis, biotechs Biogen and Genentech, Novartis, and some of their units based in Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.K. The companies are alleged to have aligned their commercial strategies to postpone Byooviz’s market entry in Italy. Byooviz, which contains ranibizumab, is a biosimilar to Lucentis, a drug originally developed by Genentech and sold outside the U.S. by Novartis.

Biosimilars are drugs that closely resemble existing biologic medicines but are not identical to them. Ranibizumab injections, the active component in both Byooviz and Lucentis, are used to treat neovascular age-related macular degeneration and macular edema, conditions affecting vision.

The investigation involved searches in Italy, conducted with the support of the finance police, and in the Netherlands by the Dutch regulator. The antitrust authority is concerned that the suspected delay in launching Byooviz may have limited its availability and kept prices high for patients, potentially affecting the Italian national health service’s budget.

In response, a Novartis spokeswoman stated that the company is fully cooperating with the investigation and providing the necessary information. “Novartis strongly believes that it has acted appropriately and in accordance with competition law and in the best interests of patients,” she added.

Source: AOL