CMA accuses Pfizer and Flynn of overcharging the NHS

pharmafile | August 5, 2021 | News story | |   

Having gathered further evidence, the CMA has reached a provisional view that Pfizer and Flynn broke competition law by charging ‘unfairly high prices’ for phenytoin sodium capsules.

The CMA has provisionally found that the companies exploited a loophole by de-branding the drug – known as Epanutin prior to September 2012 – with the effect that the drug was not subject to price regulation in the way branded drugs are.

As Pfizer and Flynn were the dominant suppliers of the drug in the UK, the NHS had no choice but to pay unfairly high prices for this vital medicine.

Essentially, Pfizer and Flynn abused their dominant positions to overcharge the NHS for vital anti-epilepsy drugs.

Following the overnight price increases by the companies, NHS spending on the drug rose from around £2 million a year in 2012 to about £50 million in 2013.

For over 4 years, Pfizer’s prices were between 780% and 1,600% higher than it had previously charged.

Pfizer then supplied the drug to Flynn, which sold it to wholesalers and pharmacies at prices between 2,300% and 2,600% higher than those they had paid previously.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “Thousands of patients depend on this drug to prevent life-threatening seizures as a result of their epilepsy.

“As the CAT recognised, this is a matter that is important for government, for the public as patients and taxpayers, and for the pharmaceutical industry itself.

“Protecting these patients, the NHS and the taxpayers who fund it, is our priority.”

The CMA’s findings are currently provisional. Pfizer and Flynn now have an opportunity to respond to the provisional findings.

Recently, the CMA has been cracking down on unfair drug price hiking from pharma companies, it recently fined Advanz over £100 million over pricing of crucial thyroid drug, and also fined a record £260 million to several companies after a 10,000% drug price increase.

Lilly Subbotin

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