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The complaint alleged that Ratiopharm, a pharmaceuticals company and major producer of generic drugs, had engaged in unethical marketing practices, including bribing doctors and pharmacists in Belgium, Canada, Spain, Estonia and Germany. This was the second complaint concerning Ratiopharm submitted by Transparency International. In June 2006, the German NCP rejected the first complaint, because the case only raised issues about Ratiopharm’s activities in Germany.
In December 2006, the German NCP rejected the second complaint against Ratiopharm. The NCP argued that the complaint had to be dealt with by the NCP of the country where the alleged misbehaviour occurred i.e. Belgium, Canada, Estonia, and Spain.
TI and the NCP met informally in March 2007. Again, the NCP insisted it could not accept the Ratiopharm case and refused to forward it to the relevant NCPs. The NCP claimed that its “hands were tied”. TI maintains that the alleged misbehaviour emanates from Ratiopharm’s German headquarters to other countries. Therefore, the German NCP should take the lead in handling the complaint. In addition, TI holds that the NCP’s refusal to forward the case to the other relevant NCPs inspires little faith in the NCP’s offer to assist informally.
Note: A third case was filed by GRESEA and TI-G in January 2008 at the Belgian NCP. On 29 February 2008, the NCP invited the Complainants to an informal preliminary meeting. At the NCP’s request, the Complainants provided supplemental information including testimonies from Belgian pharmacists and the state of national regulation in the sector. However, on 4 July 2008, the Belgian NCP rejected the complaint, claiming that the alleged violations are commonplace in the generic drugs sector and thus not specific to this company. The NCP further argued that the law does not define the meaning of 'normal rebates', but did state that that the sheer 'magnitude of the rebates do raise questions regarding the price-setting of refundable generic drugs and the reimbursement system as a whole.' The Complainants believe that the case should be the starting point of a wider public debate on the issue.
OECD Watch case story page: http://oecdwatch.org/cases/Case_102