The UK competition watchdog has hit several drug makers with fines totalling more than £260million after they overcharged the NHS.
This morning, the Competition and Markets Authority said that pharmaceutical firms Auden Mckenzie and Actavis UK (now known as Accord-UK) used their position as sole providers of the drug to grossly inflate its price for almost a decade.
The CMA said the price of the drugs was increased by 10,000% against the 2008 price.
Investigations found that the amount the NHS had to pay for a single pack of Hydrocortisone 10mg tablets rose from 70p in April 2008 to £88 by March 2016. Hydrocortisone tablets are used by thousands of people across the UK to treat adrenal insufficiency.
Chief executive of the CMA Andrea Coscelli said:
“These are without doubt some of the most serious abuses we have uncovered in recent years. The actions of these firms cost the NHS, and therefore UK taxpayers, hundreds of millions of pounds.”
Mr Coscelli added:
“Auden Mckenzie’s decision to raise prices for de-branded drugs meant the NHS had no choice but to pay huge sums of taxpayers’ money for life-saving medicines. In practice, the NHS was at one point being charged over £80 for a single pack of tablets that had previously cost less than £1. These were egregious breaches of the law that artificially inflated the costs faced by the NHS, reducing the money available for patient care. Our fine serves as a warning to other drug companies who might be planning to exploit the NHS.”
Accord-UK will be liable for £65.6million of the total fine, while former parent company Allergan should be solely liable for £109.1million. The pair will also be jointly liable for another £2million.