Italy Fines Drugmaker For Price-Fixing

Antitrust regulators in Italy have fined a drugmaker nearly $3.8 million for years of “excessive” price hikes on a rare disease medicine, the latest instance in which European authorities have cracked down on the pharmaceutical industry for harming consumers and taxpayers.

At issue is a medicine known as CDCA that is used to treat people with cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis, or CTX, a rare genetic metabolic disease.

A version was available for decades at a low cost. But the drug was bought by Leadiant Biosciences which, by 2014, began raising the price in several countries before withdrawing the medicine from the market entirely the following year.

Italy is not the first EU country to take action against the price hikes. Belgian authorities imposed maximum prices for CDCA in 2019, responding to complaints from consumers due to price hikes of up to 300% with no justifying circumstances. Belgian authorities in that case ordered a price reduction of 75% on Leadiant Biosciences’ increased asking price, calling the intended increase “… outrageous as CDCA was previously available on the Belgian market for only a fraction of the price and used off-label.” 

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