EU antitrust regulators scrutinize J&J, Novartis units

The European Commission has taken formal steps to advance an antitrust investigation involving subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson and Novartis concerning the painkiller fentanyl. "If our preliminary conclusions are confirmed, the Dutch subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson and Novartis entered into a so-called 'co-promotion' agreement to avoid competing against each other, depriving users of fentanyl in the Netherlands from access to a cheaper pain killer," an EC official said in a statement. Both companies said they acted properly, and they will have the opportunity to examine the EC's files, make comments and seek a hearing.

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