By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An adviser to Europe's top court said the court should back an EU antitrust decision which found French drugmaker Servier's pay-for-delay deals with generics rivals were anti-competitive.
Servier was fined 331 million euro ($332 million) after the European Commission said in a 2014 decision its deals with five generics rivals between 2005 and 2007 aimed to protect its best-selling blood pressure medicine perindopril from competition in the European Union.
Antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have in the last decade cracked down on such agreements, saying they block cheaper generic medicines. The pharmaceutical industry says the deals help to avert lengthy and costly litigation.
"The Court of Justice should rule that all agreements concluded by the Servier group with generic pharmaceutical companies constituted restrictions of competition by object," Advocate General Juliane Kokott at the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said.
The CJEU, which usually follows four out of five such non-binding opinions by advisers, will rule in the coming months. The lower tribunal in 2018 backed the EU fines.
Servier did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The EU competition watchdog also fined generic drugmakers Teva, Unichem and its subsidiary Niche, Matrix which is now known as Mylan Laboratories, Krka and Lupin.
The cases are C-176/19 P Commission v Servier and Others and C-201/19 P Servier and Others v Commission.
($1 = 0.9981 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee)