Three drug firms have been found provisionally guilty by the competition watchdog of colluding over the supply of a life-saving treatment for thousands of patients on the NHS.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it believes pharmaceutical firm Aspen paid two rivals – Amilco and Tiofarma – to stay out of the market for fludrocortisone acetate tablets – a treatment for Addison’s disease.
Aspen’s actions protected its UK monopoly over the supply of the drug to the NHS and gave the firm the opportunity to increase prices by up to 1,800%, the CMA said.
In exchange, it is alleged that Tiofarma was made the sole manufacturer of fludrocortisone for direct sale in the UK, and Amilco received a 30% share of the increased prices that Aspen was able to charge.
Aspen has admitted its part in the collusion and will pay £8m to the NHS as part of a settlement, as well as up to a further £2.1m if the CMA ultimately concludes competition law has been broken.
It marks the first time a CMA probe has secured a payment to the NHS.
Aspen has also committed to ensure there will be at least two suppliers of fludrocortisone in the UK to help the NHS access more competitive prices.
But Amilco and Tiofarma have yet to admit their part in the alleged illegal market-sharing.
They now have the opportunity to respond to the CMA’s provisional findings.
Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s executive director of enforcement, said: “The NHS should not be denied the opportunity of benefiting from an increased choice of suppliers, and so potential savings on what it spends on essential drugs”.
Fludrocortisone is a vital treatment, on which thousands of patients depend, mainly to treat primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency, commonly known as Addison’s disease.
Aspen is a South African pharmaceutical firm, while Amilco is a British company that provides consultancy services to drug companies, and Tiofarma is a Dutch pharmaceutical manufacturer that makes products including fludrocortisone acetate.
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?