NHS faced with 5,700% increase in drug price, finds CMA

pharmafile | November 21, 2017 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Medical Communications CMA, Concordia, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has pulled up Concordia as, provisionally, being found to have raised the price of an essential medicine by 5,711%.

The price hikes took place between 2006 and 2017, a period during which the CMA noted that production costs had remained stable.

The medicine in question is liothyronine, a treatment for hypothyroidism, and, for the period in question, Concordia had been the sole supplier of the drug. This allowed the company to raise the price of a packet of the drug from £4.46 in 2007 to £259.19 over the course of a decade.

This led to the NHS’s annual bill for the treatment rising from £600,000 to £34 million, incurring a large, unnecessary expense upon a system that is already groaning under the weight of financial pressures.

CMA chief executive, Andrea Coscelli, said: “Pharmaceutical companies which abuse their position and overcharge for drugs are forcing the NHS – and the UK taxpayer – to pay over the odds for important medical treatments. We allege that Concordia used its market dominance in the supply of liothyronine tablets to do exactly that.”

The watchdog has not yet ruled that Concordia has breached competition law, as the findings are pending further investigation. This is the second case that Concordia faces from the CMA, with another investigation into the company’s behaviour alongside Actavis UK regarding hydrocortisone tablets.

In this case, the CMA alleges that the two companies agreed to ensure that no competing versions of the medicine entered the market, in order for prices to remain high.

Concordia said in a statement, “We do not believe that competition law has been infringed. The pricing of liothyronine has been conducted openly and transparently with the Department of Health in the UK over a period of ten years. Over that time, significant investment has been made in this medicine to ensure its continued availability for patients in the UK, to the specifications required by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the UK.”

Ben Hargreaves

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