Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has been accused of abusing the market by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). We answer five questions on the allegations.
Why have the OFT alleged this about GSK?
The OFT alleges that GSK paid off rivals in order to stop generic – and cheaper – versions of its Seroxat drug coming into the market, therefore ruining competition.
What do GSK say to these allegations?
In a statement the company said it acted ‘within the law’ and that the company supports fair trading.
A statement published on the BBC said: "In fact, these arrangements actually resulted in generic versions of paroxetine entering the market before GSK's patents had expired.”
It added that the matters referred to by the OFT had already been investigated by the European Commission in 2005 – 2006.
"The issues were also reviewed in the European Commission's 2008-2009 Sector Inquiry. Neither investigation resulted in any sanctions against the company,” the statement read.
Who are the rival drug companies that were involved?
Alpharma, Generics UK and Norton Healthcare all received money in order to hold off releasing their generic versions of anti-depression drug Seroxat. GSK accused them of infringing its patent on the drug.
What else has the OFT said?
"The introduction of generic medicines can lead to strong competition on price, which can drive savings for the NHS, to the benefit of patients and, ultimately, taxpayers," said Ann Pope, senior director of services, infrastructure and public markets at the OFT to the BBC.
"It is therefore particularly important that the OFT fully investigates concerns that independent generic entry may have been delayed in this case."
What will happen next?
The firms will be asked to respond to the allegations presented by the OFT. The OFT will then decide whether competition law has been infringed.
If the allegations are proven, all companies will be deemed as infringing the competition law. GSK will also be responsible for taking advantage of a dominant position in the market.