ACCC loses court battle with Pfizer; Qantas posts $203 million profit: Midday Roundup

ACCC loses court battle with Pfizer; Qantas posts $203 million profit: Midday Roundup

The Federal Court has dismissed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s allegations that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer misused its market power and engaged in exclusive dealings in relation to the supply of cholesterol-lowering medication Lipitor.

The ACCC had alleged Pfizer offered pharmacies significant discounts and rebates on the sale Lipitor if they acquired a minimum volume of up to 12 months’ supply of Pfizer’s generic atorvastatin product.

But Justice Flick dismissed the watchdog’s case, finding that while Pfizer had taken advantage of its market power, its market power was no longer “substantial” at the time the offers were made in January 2012.

“The ACCC brought this case because it raised important public interest issues regarding the conduct of a patent holder nearing the expiry of that patent and what constitutes permissible competitive conduct,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in statement.

“The ACCC will carefully consider the judgment.”

King & Wood Mallesons partner Caroline Coops told SmartCompany the decision will have a broader impact on competition law.

“The judgment will be of interest to patent holders and others in the pharmaceutical industry, as it applies competition law to defensive conduct engaged in by a patentee when a patent is due to expire,” Coops says.

Qantas posts $203 million profit

 Qantas Airways appears to have pulled off a successful turnaround of its fortunes, announcing a $206 million profit after tax for the first half of the year.

The result is the best performance by the airline since 2010.

Qantas last year revealed an underlying loss before tax of $646 million and a statutory loss after tax of $2.8 billion for the full 2013-14 financial year.

Chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement the boost in profits was down to the successful implementation of the Qantas Transformation Program, which included cost cutting in several areas of the airline’s service. Low fuel prices and the axing of the carbon tax are also believed to have boosted the airline’s bottom line.

The results led to a jump in Qantas shares this morning, which were trading at $2.95 at the time of publication.

Shares down on open

Aussie shares have traded lower this morning, off the back of modest gains on Wall Street overnight.

According to Tristan K’Nell, local investors have been focused on the “sea of company reports” released this morning. However, K’Nell says lower-than-expected fourth quarter Capex data has also been a cause for some caution in the market.

“Private capital expenditure date [came in ] well below expectations, [with] fourth quarter Capax coming in at -2.2$ versus expectations of -1.6%,” K’Nell said in a statement. “The Australian dollar dropped off the back of the data.”

“This is a very important piece of data and does give the RBA further ammunition to cut rates again next Tuesday. The data added to other negative elements such as growing unemployment, low wage growth, low inflation, ending mining cycle and slowing trading partners.”

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 27.3 points to 5917.6 points at 12.11pm AEDT. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones closed 15.38 points higher, up 0.08% to 18224.6 points.

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