A 6000% price rise in ten years? Big corporations overcharge for your medicine and rip off the NHS.

NHS Not Safe
Support us and go ad-free

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has ruled that Canadian pharmaceutical company Concordia has effectively been ripping off the NHS. Since 2007, Concordia has raised the price of a life-changing drug, for which it was the only supplier, by 6000%. The CMA’s ruling therefore raises deeper questions about the role of the marketplace in our public services.

Lack of competition

Until last year, Concordia was the only global supplier of Liothryronine, a drug used to treat hypothyroidism. Usually affecting those over the age of 40, the symptoms of hypothyroidism can be debilitating. They include weight gain, breathlessness and mobility issues.

When Concordia first sold its treatment to the NHS, in 2007, it cost £4.46 a pack. By 2017, this had increased to a staggering £258.19. For a single tablet, this equated to a rise from 16p to £9.22. Yet the cost of producing the drug remained broadly the same during that period.

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.

Nothing new…

The practice is nothing new for companies like Concordia. In October 2016, its CEO Mark Thompson resigned amid accusations of “aggressive price hiking”. In the past, giant US firms like Pfizer and Flynn Pharma provoked similar scandals. British company GlaxoSmithKline was fined heavily for market rigging in January 2016. Such companies wield huge power. Against that, the underfunded and asset-stripped NHS can do little to protect itself, or its patients.

A wrong-headed approach?

The CMA judgement is welcome, but provides no long-term solutions, as big companies will continue to abuse their position. Pharmaceutical corporations, like all corporations, aim solely to maximise profit for shareholders. This is the prevailing system. But it is not a sensible approach to healthcare.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Public services should be run for people, not profit.

Get Involved!

– Read more Canary stories about the NHS here.

Join us so we can continue to hold the powerful to account.

Featured image via Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed