This article – which you can find here – is a rather straightforward piece on restrictions on parallel trade of pharmaceutical products as a competition law infringement.

It begins by analysing the most relevant features of parallel trade in the pharmaceutical sector. In Europe, a prohibition of restrictions on cross-border trade under EU competition law is coupled with the fact that the main purchaser of pharmaceuticals are the member states, which are free to adopt their own approach with respect to pricing and public reimbursement. Given the resulting price differentials between member states, parallel trade occurs as wholesalers take advantage of the arbitrage possibilities by exporting products from a low-price country to a high-price one and pocketing the margins.

Having established this, the paper moves into reviewing the main strategies used by companies to counter such parallel trade. Such practices include refusal to deal/prohibition of exports, vertical integration, quota systems and dual pricing schemes. The paper identifies each strategy in turn, and then assesses each of them in light of their compatibility with EU Competition rules.

This paper will likely prove interesting for those who want an overview of decisions adopted by European institutions broken down by practice type. From this perspective the paper is quite good, but those are the limits of its ambitions. It does not contain a detailed analysis of the peculiarities of the pharmaceutical market in general, or in the EU in particular; and does not even attempt to address the obvious tension between the fact that restrictions on cross-border trade are prohibited under EU competition law but are able to be welfare enhancing, which has led to the current (convoluted) case-law and decision-making practice on the topic.

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