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International Clinical Trials

Sidestepping the Issue

The European Court of Justice has again refused to set down clear guidance on the legality of the refusal by pharma companies to fill export orders from parallel traders. The ongoing legal battle between drug wholesalers and pharma companies about restrictions on parallel trade enters a new phase of uncertainty following the most recent ruling by the European Court of Justice in a case brought against pharma giant GSK by a group of Greek wholesalers.

Parallel trade occurs when wholesalers take advantage of different reimbursement prices for the same drugs prevailing in different EU member states by buying drugs and shipping them from low price countries to high price countries. The most recent ruling (itself in a case which has kept the parties in litigation for eight years already) is the latest episode in a continuing soap opera of cases zigzagging between national European courts and competition regulators, the European Commission and the European Court of Justice.

Unfortunately, the implication of the ruling is that this particular series still has a long time to run. In his earlier advisory opinion to the Court in this case, the...

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Edward Miller is a partner at Reed Smith, London, specialising in international transactional work and UK and European competition, procurement and anti-trust regulation. He regularly advises companies in the pharma and life sciences industries on parallel trade, European distribution and pricing structures, UK and European merger control, and other UK and European anti-trust issues. Edward has successfully represented clients in a range of industries in investigations conducted by UK and European anti-trust authorities, multi jurisdictional mergers and regularly counsels clients on competition compliance. He also devises and delivers training on anti-trust issues at all levels from sales staff to senior management.
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