Laboratory sues government over ‘unfair’ large scale testing scheme
Luxembourg-based laboratory BioneXt Lab has sued the government after it missed out on the country's €150 million large-scale-testing regime, claiming the government gave the winning lab an unfair advantage over its competitors and awarded contracts without public tender, BioneXt said on Thursday.
Laboratoires Réunis won all three phases of the mass testing regime that ran between April 2020 and 15 September this year, carrying over 2 million tests on behalf of the government free of charge, but which cost the taxpayer €150 million.
While the first and third phases - worth €32.5 and €64.2 million respectively - were awarded without public tender, the second phase starting in September 2020 was subject to a "pseudo public offer", BioneXt LAB CEO Dr Jean-Luc Dourson told the press on Thursday.
His company could not bid for the €53 million contract because the health ministry required interested companies to use one specific chemical during the test samples’ lab analysis, which only Laboratoires Réunis was using, he said, adding that "there was only one company that could respond to the request".
"BioneXT does not question the large-scale testing or free tests. [We] denounce the ministry's selection of this one actor and that free tests were solely done through the large-scale testing", Dourson said.
The Leudelange-based laboratory claims that the government gave the operator of the scheme an unfair and lasting advantage in the market by shutting out its competitors, breaking Luxembourg's fair and open market legislation.
It has now petitioned the court to retrospectively annul the government's contract with Laboratoires Réunis and has also filed for damages. "We are extremely optimistic", BioneXT lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont said at Thursday's press conference about their chances to win the case, claiming it would not be hard to prove wrongdoing. The first hearing is scheduled for 12 October.
BioneXt will also file a complaint with the EU Commission at the end of the year to look into the way the government awarded the large-scale-testing contracts, claiming that they constitute illegal state aid that are incompatible with EU treaties governing the Single Market.