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French Supreme Court confirms discriminatory abuse in market of medical information databases for pharmaceutical companies

Earlier this summer, the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) rejected an appeal by Cegedim against a ruling of the Paris Court of Appeal, upholding a July 2014 decision of the French Competition Authority (FCA) that imposed a EUR 5.7 million fine on the company. The FCA had found that Cegedim's refusal to grant a licence for the use of its medical information database OneKey to those pharmaceutical companies using or intending to use Euris' customer relationship management (CRM) software constituted a discriminatory abuse of a dominant position (in breach of Article L.420-2 of the French Commercial Code and Article 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union).

The OneKey database included doctors' medical information (contact data, specialties, visiting hours, and so on) and had become the leading database for pharmaceutical companies in France. Cegedim, which was found to be dominant on the market of medical information databases for pharmaceutical companies for the organisation of medical visits (78% share) refused access to OneKey to Euris' CRM software clients. However, it granted access to this database to pharmaceutical companies using Cegedim's own or alternative competing CRM software (that is, other than Euris') during the contested period. Because CRM software cannot function without access to medical information databases, Cegedim's unjustified refusal resulted in Euris losing 70% of its CRM software customers.

In addition to the fine, the FCA had ordered Cegedim to cease any discrimination among clients on the basis of the CRM software they use. Cegedim's argument that refusal was justified by on-going national counterfeiting proceedings against Euris was rejected on grounds that a litigious situation cannot justify the implementation of anticompetitive practices. The Supreme Court decision upholds the FCA's views by confirming the ruling of the Court of Appeal.

A prior version of this post was originally published by the same authors in Practical Law – Life Sciences, July 2017 Issue (Thomson Reuters).

This post was originally co-authored by Patricia Carmona Botana.