11 June 2024

Cartel allegations dismissed by Italian Competition Authority

On 10 June 2024, following economic and legal submissions, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) issued a rare decision dismissing allegations of cartel agreement, in relation to the market for radiopharmaceuticals fluorodeoxyglucose (18-FDG) and 11-C choline.  The investigation was opened in March 2022 following the immunity application of one of the companies involved. 

The products in question are used by hospitals for medical diagnostic imaging (PET scans). The AGCM investigated whether suppliers had engaged in bid rigging in public tenders, through the creation of consortia, market sharing agreements or back-up agreements between competitors.   

Economic and legal evidence submitted on behalf of Curium, one of the companies involved, demonstrated that the alleged conduct was pro-competitive and did not constitute an infringement of Article 101(1). Specifically, it showed that the suppliers could not have competed individually in the tenders under scrutiny, due to capacity constraints stemming from both significant complexities inherent to the supply of the products and demand-side rigidities.  As such, the investigated agreements had not reduced the number of bids that would have been made otherwise.   Furthermore, the AGCM concluded that these agreements likely resulted in substantial economic efficiencies, ultimately benefiting customers and consumers. 

Lastly, the AGCM found no evidence of back-up agreements being misused, noting that such arrangements were relatively rare and accounted for a small portion of contracted volumes and revenues. On the contrary, they were necessary to ensure security of supply, due to the high risk of production disruptions and the products’ very short shelf life.

RBB’s team, led by Francesco Rosati and supported by Valerio Sodano, Alice Di Muzio and Silvia Bugada, advised Curium alongside ADVANT Nctm.

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