Sales of Dermo-Cosmetics on the Internet: Ruling by the EU Court of Justice Allows Pierre Fabre Laboratories to Defend Their Right to an Individual Exemption

By Laboratoires Pierre Fabre, PRNE
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CASTRES, France, October 13, 2011 -

Pierre Fabre Laboratories have been opposed to the sale of dermo-cosmetic products on the Internet for many years. The Laboratories have argued that only the physical presence of a qualified pharmacist guarantees consumers the quality of pharmaceutical and personalized advice that is tailored to meet their expectations of efficiency and safety. In addition, selling dermo-cosmetic products promotes their counterfeiting and deprives them of the cosmetovigilance monitoring completed by highly qualified pharmaceutical professionals.  

Following the injunction of the French Competition Board to allow its distributors to sell on the Internet, Pierre Fabre Laboratoires took the case to the Court of Appeal in Paris in October 2008. The Court acknowledged the merits of the arguments raised by Pierre Fabre Laboratoires and suspended the injunction until further notice.

To decide on the merits, the Court of Appeal in Paris sought the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The Court of Appeals then posed a general question - known as a “preliminary” - to the CJEU as to whether the ban on selling on the Internet imposed by a manufacturer on its distributors constituted a restriction of competition.

In a judgement released today, the CJEU supported by and large the conclusions of its Advocate General, who had already ruled on the matter on March 3rd. Thus, it considers that a total ban on Internet sales restricts competition on principle. It did point out, however, that under certain circumstances individual exemptions may be granted. It is now up to the Court of Appeal in Paris to decide whether Pierre Fabre Laboratories are entitled to benefit from it.

Pierre Fabre Laboratoires have taken note of the opinion of the European Union Court of Justice. They are satisfied that it opens the possibility of an individual exemption from a general principle. Since the start of the case, Pierre Fabre Laboratoires have stressed that dermo-cosmetic products are primarily health products, often integrated by dermatologists and paediatricians into the course of medical care, and as such they enjoy a special status that prevents their distribution on the Internet.  

Pierre Fabre Laboratories are now awaiting the decision of the Court of Appeal, which should be released in the first half of 2012. More than ever, they are convinced that the consumer’s best interest relies on personalized advice tailored to meet their expectations of efficiency and safety.

About Pierre Fabre Laboratories:

Pierre Fabre Laboratories, the 2nd largest independent pharmaceutical laboratory in France, achieved a turnover of €1.86 billion in 2010, with international sales accounting for more than 50%. They employ around 10,000 people, including 1,300 in R&D. The business spans from pharmaceutical drugs and family health OTC to dermo-cosmetics (behind brands like Avène, A-Derma, Ducray, Elancyl, Galénic, Glytone, Klorane and René Furterer). In 2010, Pierre Fabre Laboratories dedicated 22% of their annual sales in the pharmaceutical drug business to R&D efforts spread mostly across three pillars: oncology, central nervous system and dermatology.

To learn more about Pierre Fabre, visit

Press contacts: Djamila Hazene-Kedjem, Director of Press Services , +33(0)1-49-10-81-12 /+33(0)6-89-45-87-95 , djamila.hazene.kedjem at; Christelle Touchet, Deputy Head of Corporate Communication, +33(0)1-49-10-81-33 / +33(0)6-18-00-35-68, christelle.touchet at

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