EU's Almunia says Lundbeck, Servier decisions next year

BRUSSELS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - EU regulators will decide nextyear whether to fine Danish drugmaker Lundbeck andFrench peer Servier for blocking the entry of cheaper genericmedicines into the market, the EU's antitrust chief said onMonday.

In July, the European Commission charged the two companiesand 13 other competitors with illegal "pay-for-delay" dealswhere brand-name companies pay generic firms to abstain fromputting their rival drugs on the market.

"We are concerned that these companies misused their patentsto keep markets closed to cheap generic medicines," EUCompetition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia EU lawmakers at ahearing.

"I hope that the decisions we will adopt - hopefully in 2013- will change current practices by some players in the industrythat leave a lot to be desired," he said.

The companies can be fined up to 10 percent of their globalturnover if found guilty of breaching EU rules.

Lundbeck's deals were with German drugmaker Merck KGaA, Generics UK, Arrow, Resolution Chemicals, XelliaPharmaceuticals, Alpharma, A.L. Industrier and Ranbaxy.

The Commission said Servier's case involved Israel's Teva, Niche, which is a subsidiary of Unichem ,Matrix, which is now known as Mylan Laboratories Limited, Krka and Lupin .

The EU watchdog's move against pay-for-delay deals cameafter a high-profile sector enquiry in 2009 concluded that theagreements cost consumers millions of euros annually. U.S.regulators are also looking into such agreements.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by David Cowell)

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