European antitrust officials raided drugmakers including AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) as part of an investigation into possible collusion to keep cheap generic medicine off the shelves.

The European Commission said it raided a "limited number" of pharmaceutical companies that may have obstructed the sale of generic medicines Bloomberg News said.

"The commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have acted individually or jointly, notably to delay generic entry for a particular medicine," the EC said without naming the companies. If confirmed, this could be a potential violation of EU antitrust rules," the commission said.

AstraZeneca said inspections on its property were related to the ulcer drug Nexium

European and U.S. regulators have been investigating if settlements between branded-drug makers and generics-makers hurt the consumer. Last year, the European Commission said that companies work to delay the introduction of generics "for as long as possible."

AstraZeneca said it is "cooperating with the authorities."


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