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UK’s CMA fines drugmakers £260m for overcharging NHS for steroid med

Three of the ten companies named in CMA’s statement said they disagreed with the decision and would be appealing against the fines

The UK’s Competitions and Marketing Authority (CMA) has fined a number of drugmakers a combined £260m for overcharging the NHS for the steroid medication hydrocortisone.

The fines come following a CMA review into the conduct of several pharma companies, which found that Auden Mckenzie and Actavis UK (now known as Accord UK) charged the NHS ‘excessively high prices’ for hydrocortisone tablets for close to a decade.

The CMA said the Auden Mckenzie paid off would-be competitors Advanz Pharma and Waymade to refrain from entering the marketing, protecting its position as the sole provider of the tablets.

Actavis UK also continued paying off Advanz Pharma – previously known as AMCo – after taking over sales of hydrocortisone in 2015, said the CMA.

As a result, the CMA has fined Accord UK, and for their ownership periods its parent companies Intas and Accord and former parent firm Allergan, a total of £155m for charging the NHS unfair prices for hydrocortisone from 2008 to 2018.

“From 2008 to 2015, hydrocortisone tablets were sold by Auden Mckenzie. Actavis UK (now known as Accord UK) took over the business in 2015 and is held liable for Auden Mckenzie’s conduct before that date,” said the CMA.

The CMA found that Auden Mckenzie and Actavis UK increased the price of 10mg and 20mg hydrocortisone tablets by over 10,000% compared to the original version of the drug.

As a result, the amount the NHS had to pay for a pack of 10mg tablets jumped from 70p in April 2008 to £88 by March 2016. Similarly, the prices for the 20mg tablets rose from £1.07 to £102.74 per pack over the same period.

The CMA estimated that before April 2008, the NHS was spending around £500,000 a year on hydrocortisone tablets, which increased to over £80m by 2016.

Accord UK and Allergan – as a former parent – have been fined a further £66m for paying two would-be companies to remain out of the market.

Advanz and its former parent Cinven has also been fined a total of £43m for their part in the collision, while Waymade has also been fined £2.5m.

“As well as imposing substantial fines, the CMA’s decision means the NHS will be able to seek damages for the firms’ behaviour, should it choose to do so,” said the CMA.

According to Reuters, three of the ten companies named in CMA’s statement – Waymade, Accord and Advanz – said they disagreed with the decision and would be appealing against the fines.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

15th July 2021

From: Regulatory

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