Vifor Pharma offers to fix alleged anti-competitive behaviour

The logo of Swiss drugmaker Vifor Pharma in Glattbrugg

By Foo Yun Chee and Inti Landauro

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Vifor Pharma has offered to launch a marketing campaign to address any damage caused by its criticisms of a rival to its key drug, EU regulators said on Friday, a move that could stave off a potential fine and end an antitrust investigation.

Vifor, part of Australian group CSL, made the proposal following a two-year investigation by the European Commission.

The EU competition enforcer was concerned by Vifor's allegedly misleading marketing campaign regarding the safety of Danish rival Pharmacosmos' iron deficiency treatment Monofer that primarily targeted healthcare professionals.

Monofer is the closest rival to Vifor's blockbuster Ferinject treatment.

Vifor has offered to launch a comprehensive and multi-channel communication campaign to rectify and undo the effects of the potentially misleading messages about the safety of Monofer, the Commission said.

The proposal "reflects several months of detailed discussion with the European Commission," Vifor said in a statement.

The company will also not engage in external promotional and medical communications, in writing or orally, about Monofer's safety profile for 10 years in the European Economic Area, the EU executive said.

Pharmacosmos will "carefully study the proposed commitments", a spokesperson said in an email.

Interested parties have a month to provide feedback on the proposal before the EU watchdog decides whether to accept Vifor's offer and end its investigation without any admission of wrongdoing from Vifor nor any fine.

"Conducting a formal market test does not mean any admission of liability on our part," Vifor said in its statement.

(Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Kirsten Donovan and Mark Potter)