French court rejects AstraZeneca complaint

A French court has dismissed a writ from Anglo-Swedish drugs firm AstraZeneca brought against an insurance firm which advised doctors to be restrictive in prescribing one of its products.

The pharmaceuticals giant had brought a complaint against a local arm of the CPAM state health insurance fund over comments made about AstraZeneca’s star cholesterol drug Crestor in a guideline for doctors published in 2006.

The CPAM had said that a five milligram dose of Crestor “does not provide any significant added benefit” in medical results compared to other medicines and recommended that doctors only prescribe it in serious cases.

According to a ruling last month obtained by AFP this week, an appeals court dismissed the Swedish and British firm’s complaint against CPAM, upholding two earlier rulings by courts in southwestern France.

“The message published by the CPAM for medical consultants contained only a prescription guideline, not a peremptory order,” the court judgement read.

Laurent Jaladeau, the director of the CPAM for the southwestern Aude region

that was targeted by the complaint, said Crestor was more expensive than other

cholesterol drugs on the market.

The CPAM guidelines, which inform doctors of the costs of reimbursing certain treatments, were based on information from the French drug safety agency AFSSAPS.

“What’s important is that the ruling establishes that CPAM can inform doctors based on information that is scientifically founded,” Jaladeau said.

AstraZeneca, one of the world’s biggest drug companies, won a separate case over Crestor in June when it successfully defended its patent against US makers of generic drugs.

AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the French court’s ruling.

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