BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Israeli drugmaker Teva rebuffed EU antitrust charges of making an illegal deal with rival Cephalon to delay selling a cheaper generic version of the latter's sleep disorder drug at a hearing on Tuesday.
The European Commission charged the company with the pay-for-delay drug deal in July last year, after hitting Denmark's Lundbeck , U.S. giant Johnson & Johnson and French drugmaker Servier over similar practices in recent years.
"Teva has responded to the statement of objections robustly, and has attended the oral hearing today," the company said in a statement, referring to the EU charge sheet.
"We do not believe that Cephalon and Teva entered into any anti-competitive behavior," it said.
Senior officials from the Commission and national competition agencies as well as rivals and consumer groups typically attend these closed hearings while companies try to reinforce their arguments.
Teva, the world's biggest generic drugmaker, reached the deal with Cephalon as part of a settlement to end a lawsuit over alleged infringement of the latter's patents on the blockbuster drug. Teva subsequently acquired Cephalon in 2011.
The EU competition watchdog said the deal may have pushed up prices of the drug modafinil. It can penalize companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching EU rules.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by David Evans)