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The State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition of Armenia ruled on Monday that Natali Pharm, the country's biggest medicine importer and retailer, owned by MP Samvel Alexanyan, should pay a fine worth 50mln AMD ($121,100).
Chairman of the Commission Artak Shaboyan says that in Jan 2011 MPs from Heritage party Anahit Bakhshyan and Stepan Safaryan complained of anti-competitive actions preventing Szni company from entering the medicine market.
A following inquiry has shown that Natali Pharm, Europharm, Ruspharm, Amikus, Egdani, Megi ES, Kamelia, Anikopharm, Hrant Gevorgyan and 30 state medical centers all over Armenia acted anti-competitively during state procurements.
In some cases procurements were carried out without tenders, in others tenders were just a formality. There were cases when Natali Pharm bribed hospital officials so they refused to buy medicines from winning companies.
Shaboyan blames hospitals for creating favorable conditions for anti- competitive and corrupt activities but has punished only Natali Pharm.
He says that it is the first such big investigation in the field.
Since the case may involve waste of budgetary funds, the materials of the investigations have been sent to the Prosecutor General's Office, the Supervisory Chamber and the Finance Ministry.
In 2010 the Government budgeted 3.7bln AMD ($9.9mln) for the procurement of medicines. The same year medicine production in Armenia totaled 3.3bln AMD, the imports - $73mln, with Natali Pharm being the biggest importer in 2007-2010.
Established in 2001 Natali Pharm has over 40 partners, including Servier, Nycomed, Novartis Pharma, Novartis Consumer, Orion, Santen, Berlin Chemie AG. It is exclusive representative of Krewel Meuselbach, Unipharm, Nizhpharm and Kievmedpreparat in Armenia. The company has over 30 drugstores in Yerevan and over 10 all over Armenia.
According to ArmInfo's Ranking of Biggest Trade and Service Companies of Armenia, in 2010 Natali Pharm's net profit totaled $1.6mln, assets - $22.6mln, own capital - $7.7mln.