UK Fines Big Pharma Over Drug Prices

Five UK firms have been slapped with a combined £35 million (US$47 million) fine from the competition watchdog for illegally driving up the price of an anti-nausea drug used by the National Health Service (NHS), reported Bloomberg.

The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) stated the price the NHS paid for prochlorperazine surged from £6.49 to £51.68 per pack of 50 tablets between 2013 and 2017.

Prochlorperazine is used to treat nausea, dizziness, and migraines. The price rise for the drug represented an increase of 700%. Annual costs for the drug soared from around £2.7 million to about £7.5 million, even though the number of packs dispensed fell.

The CMA stated Alliance Pharmaceuticals, Lexon, Medreich, and the former and current owners of Focus broke the law by striking an illegal arrangement to limit supply of the tablets. Focus is now owned by Advanz, and was previously owned by the private equity firm Cinven.

Under the arrangement, Alliance Pharmaceuticals appointed Focus as its distributor, and Lexon and Medreich were paid a share of the profits that Focus earned by selling Alliance’s product. In return, Lexon and Medreich agreed not to compete in the supply of these prochlorperazine tablets in the UK.

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