Hungarian watchdog fines companies in hospital case with 843.800 euros
Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (Hungarian Competition Authority) established that, in order to influence the tender notice, share the market and fix prices, B. Braun Medical Magyarország Orvostechnológiai, Chirmax Hungary Kereskedelmi, Johnson & Johnson Egészségügyi és Babaápolási Termékeket Gyártó és Forgalmazó, SurgiCare Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató and Variomedic Kereskedelmi és Szolgáltató had coordinated their bids concerning four public procurement projects of hospitals.
In the so-called “surgical catgut case” the GVH investigated tenders which were published by hospitals between 2011-2014 for procuring surgical sutures and surgical equipment.
These products are medical devices which are used in hospitals for operations. The buyers of the undertakings under investigation distribute medical products and medical devices and their activities give them a combined decisive share of the domestic surgical sutures and surgical gown sewing machine market.
The case was initiated based on the leniency application of Johnson & Johnson in 2013.
During its proceeding the GVH extended its investigation several times and all in all more than 30 public procurement actions were analysed to ascertain whether the bidders had coordinated their bids for supplying surgical products for tenders.
The GVH found violations in the following four public procurement procedures:
- planned procurement of surgical sutures for Zala County Hospital for 2011;
- procurement of surgical sutures for Semmelweis University for 2012;
- procurement of surgical sutures for the University of Pécs for 2012 and
- procurement of surgical sutures for Petz Aladár County Educational Hospital for 2012.
Johnson & Johnson received full immunity from the imposition of a fine, thereby avoiding a fine of more than 115 million HUF (360 thousands euros), due to the fact that the GVH became aware of the infringement through the leniency application of Johnson & Johnson.
In addition to Johnson & Johnson, CHIRMAX HUNGARY, and B. Braun Medical Hungary Medical Technology submitted leniency applications, and having regard to their active participation in enabling the cartel to be discovered, they received a 30 percent and a 20 percent reduction in their fines respectively. ■