Competition Bureau Discontinues its Investigation of Alcon Canada Inc.

Following Bureau Investigation, Consumers Can Now Choose between Brand Name and Generic Versions of Ocular Anti-allergy Drug

May 13, 2014 — OTTAWA, ON — Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau has discontinued its investigation of alleged anti‑competitive conduct by Alcon Canada Inc. (Alcon) related to the supply of its prescription anti-allergy drug, Patanol, which could have raised concerns under the abuse of dominance provision of the Competition Act.

The Bureau was investigating whether Alcon implemented a strategy known as product switching or product hopping, which includes intentionally disrupting the supply of Patanol, to limit or prevent meaningful competition from generic drug companies.

Alcon ceased engaging in the conduct that raised concerns for the Bureau shortly after the Bureau began its investigation. As a result of Alcon resupplying Patanol, and the subsequent entry by competing generic drug companies, competitive dynamics in the market appear to have been restored. Lower-priced, therapeutically equivalent generic versions of Patanol are now available to Canadians.

Quick Facts

  • The Bureau’s investigation began in November 2012 after concerns were raised that Alcon’s strategy may limit or prevent meaningful competition from generic drug companies.
  • Product switching or product hopping is generally designed to prevent, delay or significantly hinder meaningful competition from generic drug companies. In such a scenario, when faced with the prospect of competition from a therapeutically equivalent generic drug, the branded pharmaceutical firm will introduce a reformulated version of its drug, which is protected by one or more additional patents, and subsequently removes its original drug from the market in order to force consumers to alternative treatments, such as the reformulated drug introduced by the branded pharmaceutical firm.
  • The Bureau’s investigation involved making multiple market contacts; gathering relevant information from industry participants and various government agencies; reviewing data and consulting with experts; and obtaining a court order requiring Alcon to produce information relevant to the investigation.

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