Today’s guest post by Avinash Amarnath reports on several actions by the Competition Commission of India
India update 2015 Vol 3
Its been quite a busy fortnight for the Competition Commission of India (CCI) especially on the cartel front. The CCI has issued three substantive decisions (two infringement decisions and one decision finding no infringement after a detailed investigation) last week which I have analysed below.
Another chemist and druggist association penalised
In its ninth decision against various chemist and druggist trade associations in India, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined the Himachal Pradesh (a state in India) Chemist and Druggist Association 10% of its average turnover for imposing rules requiring:
- a no-objection certificate from it before a pharmaceutical company could appoint a stockist in the state of Himachal Pradesh; and
- requiring compulsory payment of ‘product information service’ charges by the pharmaceutical company before launching a drug in the state.
The CCI found that these rules cumulatively resulted in limiting supply in the market and restricted pharmaceutical companies’ ability to launch new drugs onto the market. The president of the trade association was fined 8% of his average income for his liability as an individual.
An interesting takeaway from this decision is the CCI’s analysis of whether pharmaceutical companies can also be found liable for forming an agreement with the trade association to deny stockistship and limit supplies for the want of a no-objection certificate from the trade association. The CCI found that agreements between pharmaceutical companies and the trade association would not qualify as horizontal agreements (falling under Section 3(3) of the Competition Act) or as vertical agreements (falling under Section 3(4) of the Competition Act) as they are neither engaged in identical or similar trade of goods or provision of services nor operating at different stages or levels of the production chain. However, relying on a previous decision (Ramakant Kini v. Hirandandani Hospital and Ors, a discussion on which appeared in my first post on Cartel Capers), the CCI observed that such agreements could nonetheless be examined under the general prohibition on anti-competitive agreements (Section 3(1) of the Competition Act) and would be subject to a rule of reason analysis. However, in the instant case, the pharmaceutical companies were not found liable as there was no evidence to indicate an agreement between them and the trade association.
The full order of the CCI can be accessed here.