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The antitrust regulator in Spain has fined Merck approximately $39 million for preventing a competitor from marketing a generic version of a hormonal contraceptive, the latest effort by a European government to crack down on anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical industry.

In explaining its decision, the National Markets and Competition Commission, or CNMC, pointed to a 2017 court action in which Merck accused another company, Insud Pharma, of violating a patent for a vaginal ring called Nuvaring, the only such product sold in Spain at the time. Merck successfully sought an injunction to prevent Insud from manufacturing and selling a rival product.

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