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Antitrust Agency Fines Bayer Millions for Aspirin Price-Fixing

Germany's antitrust authority has fined pharmaceutical company Bayer 10.3 million euros ($16 million) for illegally fixing the price of medications, including aspirin.

An aspirin tablet

Bayer Vital managed to keep its prices high -- illegally

The antitrust watchdog said Bayer Vital, a subsidiary of Leverkusen-based Bayer, had made illegal deals with around 11,000 of Germany's 21,000 pharmacies, involving special rebates in exchange for selling the company's over-the-counter products at a certain price.

"Bayer Vital does not agree with the legal position," the company stated, but said it would accept the fine to avoid a legal battle. It said it had reviewed its practices and adjusted them as needed.

Unlawful deals

Late last year, the cartel office searched the offices of Bayer. Subsequently, Bayer Vital had cooperated with the authorities, which was taken into account when determining the fine it would be obliged to pay, the cartel office said.

Since 2004, pharmacies have been allowed to set the price of over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin and cough syrup, themselves. It is illegal for pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies to forge agreements on prices, the watchdog said.

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