Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Flynn have been accused by the UK’s competition watchdog of illegally overcharging the National Health Service (NHS) for vital anti-epilepsy drugs by abusing their dominance in the market to raise prices overnight.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has confirmed its 2016 finding that the pair exploited a loophole to charge unfairly high prices for phenytoin sodium capsules by debranding the drug, known as Epanutin, in 2012 so it would not face price regulation.
The watchdog began reassessing the case after the drugs maker Pfizer appealed against the CMA’s 2016 fine of £84.2 million (US$117.2 million) – a record at the time – for raising the cost of the anti-epilepsy drug by up to 2,600%. Flynn Pharma, a drugs distributor, faced a fine of £5.2 million (US$7.2 million) for charging excessive and unfair prices for phenytoin sodium capsules.
Although the Competition Appeal Tribunal upheld parts of the watchdog’s findings, it referred the matter of whether Pfizer and Flynn abused their market position back to the CMA for further consideration.
The CMA stated after carefully assessing further evidence it believes that the pair were able to abuse their dominant position to overcharge the NHS, by debranding the capsules which are used by an estimated 48,000 epilepsy patients in the UK to prevent and control seizures.
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