Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Flynn Pharma have been fined a total of £ 70 million for overcharging the NHS, a life-saving epilepsy drug.
The UK competition watch agency has fined New York-based Pfizer £ 63 million and Stevenage-based small British pharmaceutical company Flynn a fine of £ 6.7 million. Both companies said they would appeal.
The fine is the result of a detailed investigation by the Competitive Markets Authority (CMA) that discovered that Pfizer and Flynn had imposed “unreasonably high prices” on sodium phenytoin capsules for over four years.
The two companies have removed the brand name for the drug, formerly known as epanutin, and marketed it as a generic drug. This meant that they were no longer subject to price restrictions and could set prices at their discretion.
The AMC said Pfizer and Flynn were the main suppliers of medicines in the UK at the time, so the NHS had no choice but to pay the soaring prices of the important anti-inflammatory drug epilepsy.
Over the next four years, Pfizer has charged 780% to 1,600% higher than before. The company supplied the drug to Flynn, who sold the capsules to wholesalers and pharmacies at a price 2,300% to 2,600% higher than Pfizer had previously charged.
This raised the annual NHS cost of phenytoin capsules from £ 2m in 2012 to around £ 50m the following year.
The CMA ruled infringement in December 2016, found that the company’s actions violated competition law, and Pfizer and Flynn challenged it in a lengthy appeal process. In March 2020, the Court of Appeals completely dismissed Flynn’s appeal and AMC reviewed the case.
Andrea Coscelli, CEO of CMA, said: “Phenytoin is an essential medicine used daily by thousands of people across the UK to prevent life-threatening epileptic seizures. These companies burden NHS and make more money for themselves. Because of this, they have illegally exploited their dominant position, which means that patients and taxpayers lose.
“Such behavior is unacceptable and companies now have to face the consequences of illegal activity.”
Pfizer said he would appeal. “Ensuring a sustainable supply of our products to patients in the UK was of paramount importance to us and was central to our decision to sell phenytoin capsules to Flynn Pharma in 2012,” he said. Said.
“The Competitive Court of Appeals and the Court of Appeals have finally ruled in favor of Pfizer regarding the original CMA’s decision, which was overturned by the relevant fines. We, like all business operations, are in good faith. We are working on this sale and believe that we are fully compliant with established competition law. “
Flynn Pharma said he was “shocked and disappointed” with the AMC decision and said he would sue again. “In our view, the original proceedings in CMA are fundamentally flawed, and that view has not changed since the second ruling,” the company said.
He added: “The protracted nature of this case has overcome two changes in the CMA’s Supreme Leader, demonstrating a lack of clarity and consistency in the alleged harm theory, and more fundamentally a lack of irregularity. . “