GSKGlaxoSmithKline was fined £37.6m by the UK’s antitrust watchdog over pay-for-delay deals that held back sales of cheaper generic versions of antidepressant drug paroxetine.

The Competition and Markets Authority said the London-based drugmaker colluded with other companies from 2001-2004 by agreeing to make payments “and other value transfers totaling over £50m to suppliers of generic versions of paroxetine”, according to a statement on Friday. The agreements blocked generic drug companies from entering the UK market.

Antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic for years have focused on how settlements between companies that make branded medicines and generics producers might harm consumers.

H Lundbeck, the Nordic region’s second-largest drugmaker, was fined €93.8m by the European Commission in 2013. A year later, the European Union (EU) regulator fined Les Laboratoires Servier and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries €427.7m over pacts that delayed the release of cheaper versions of a hypertension treatment.

Glaxo said it disagreed with the Competition and Markets Authority’s decision and that the deals it struck with generics makers were to “settle costly, complex and uncertain patent disputes”.

“The agreements allowed the generics companies to enter the market early with a paroxetine product and ultimately enabled a saving of over £15m” to the National Health Service, Glaxo said in an e-mailed statement. “GSK is considering its grounds for appeal.”

The competition authority on Friday also fined generic drugmakers Mylan and German drugmaker Merck KGaA a total of £5.8m.

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