The Commission for the Protection of Competition (hereinafter the "CPC") following the completion of a preliminary investigation, acting under Section 17 of the Protection of Competition Laws of 2008 and 2014 (hereinafter the "Law"), unanimously decided to initiate proceedings against the Cyprus Pharmaceutical Association (hereinafter the “CPA”), regarding prima facie infringements of Section 3(1)(a) of the Law and Article 101(1) of the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union (hereinafter the "TFEU") and to this end has notified a Statement of Objections.
The CPC conducted the preliminary investigation due to a complaint filed by the Cyprus Bank Employees Union (hereinafter "ETYK") and the Cyprus Bank Employees Health Fund (hereinafter "TY-ETYK”) against the CPA.
The prima facie infringements of Section 3(1)(a) of the Law and 101(1) TFEU concern:
(a) the direct or indirect fixing of purchase or selling prices by CPA by its decision, as an association of undertakings, directed/led its members/pharmacists to sell pharmaceutical products at fixed prices, thus restricting competition in the market of the retail supply of pharmaceutical products and services.
(b) the prohibition imposed by CPA to its members/pharmacists under Regulation 23 of the Rules of Conduct (hereinafter referred to as "the Regulations") (P.I 180/74), to contract and cooperate with TY-ETYK in order to prevent them from providing discounts to TY-ETYK’s members and,
(c) the direct or indirect fixing of other trading conditions as, by its decision, the CPA, acting as an association of undertakings, prohibited any pharmacist / member from advertising the provision of any pharmaceutical services and of the sale of other non-prescription medicines or other pharmaceuticals, with the aim of restricting competition in the relevant market.
The CPC notes that this announcement is not binding, but merely informative. The notification of the Statement of Objections does not in any way predetermine the final outcome of the case or can in any way influence and/or replace the CPC's final decision.
The CPC, upon the completion of the proceedings concerning the case and after conducting the relevant oral proceeding before it and thoroughly evaluating the oral and written observations of all parties involved as well as the documents of the file, will issue a duly reasoned decision as to whether there has been an infringement of the Law. The final decision will be communicated to the undertakings concerned and published in the Official Gazette of the Republic and on the CPC’s website, ensuring confidentiality of business secrets and/or other information of confidential nature of all parties involved.
This press release is issued on the basis of Article 23(2)(k) of the Law.
1. The CPC decides, on the basis of Article 17 of the Law, to initiate the proceedings for the investigation of an infringement, as long as it finds, following a preliminary investigation, a prima facie infringement of the provisions of Article 3 and/or 6 and/or Articles 101 TFEU and/or 102 TFEU.
2. The CPC prepares a written statement in order to inform the undertakings or associations of undertakings on the objections raised against them.
3. Where the existing information before the CPC is changed or new information arises, the CPC may proceed to the modification of any objections raised against the undertakings or associations of undertakings concerned and the preparation and communication of a modified statement of objections to the undertakings or associations of undertakings concerned.
4. The Statement of Objections is a procedural and a preliminary document which indicates the subject matter of the procedure in order to safeguard effectively the rights of defense of the undertakings or associations of undertakings.
5. During the proceedings before the CPC for the investigation of infringements or for the investigation of complaints lodged pursuant to the Law, or for any other proceedings provided by the Law and/or the regulations made thereunder, there shall be allowed to be present upon invitation from the CPC:
(i) the persons who lodged the complaint, personally, through an authorized lawyer or personally with an authorized lawyer,
(ii) the persons involved in the proceedings or/and the complaint before the CPC,
(iii) any person, who may, at the CPC's discretion, assist in the investigation of the infringement or/and the complaint;
THE COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF COMPETITION