CMA fines Advanz over £100 million over pricing of crucial thyroid drug
pharmafile | July 30, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications |
The CMA has fined the pharmaceutical company Advanz over £100 million after it charged excessive and unfair prices for supplying liothyronine tablets which are used to treat thyroid hormone deficiency.
Between 2007 and 2017, the price paid by the NHS for liothyronine tablets rose from £4.46 to £258.19, a rise of almost 6,000%, while production costs remained broadly stable, causing the NHS and patients to lose out.
The CMA has fined the firms involved a total of over £100 million for the relevant periods in which they broke the law: Advanz (£40.9 million), together with HgCapital (£8.6 million) and Cinven (£51.9 million) – two private equity firms which were previously owners of the businesses now forming part of Advanz.
NHS spending on the tablets in 2006, the year before the implementation of the strategy, was £600,000, but by 2009 had increased to more than £2.3 million and jumped to more than £30 million by 2016.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “Advanz’s decision to ratchet up the price of liothyronine tablets and impose excessive and unfair prices for over eight years came at a huge cost to the NHS, and ultimately to UK taxpayers.
“But that wasn’t all – it also meant that people dealing with depression and extreme fatigue, as a result of their thyroid conditions, were told they could not continue to receive the most effective treatment for them due its increased price.
“Advanz’s strategy exploited a loophole enabling it to reap much higher profits. This fine of over £100 million, and our work in the pharma sector to date, sends a clear message that breaking the law has serious consequences.”
As well as imposing substantial fines, the CMA’s decision makes it easier for the NHS to seek compensation for the firms’ behaviour, by way of damages, should it choose to do so.