Three pharma firms accused of collusion over NHS drug supply

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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.

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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.

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  • Show Comments
    1. 1800% !!!! … One Thousand Eight Hundred FUCKING PERCENT !!!!!!!!!!

      Those who even suggest, let alone carry out this truly evil plot to make illicit profits from others’ suffering, deserve to be hanged publicly by their glandes and clitorides, from a 1000 foot drop, and I do mean until they fall due to their fun-bits being over-stretched and torn.

      I expect the drop onto their heads will actually only be 5ft or so, but then it really depends on how stretchy their genitals are, and how they want to proceed in life … some might choose to violently shake themselves at a 1000ft so they don’t have to live with 995ft elongated junk, others might want longer, torn junk … its a fucked up World.

      Sorry to the squeamish, however I think we all need to put things into perspective at times … even this perspective doesn’t quite convey the anger, rage, and hatred I have for this kind of immorality (among others), and now I need to go check myself in for having such horrible thoughts towards others … even if they do deserve it dammit!

      Having been a victim of Corporate Pharma greed and immorality before (Fuck you Glaxo-Smithkline!), I feel justified in jokingly suggesting the above, to highlight the need for big Pharma to be brought to heel, and hopefully there are others who get why this article has elicited this response. The article is great, admittedly my reaction … not so much … but it is honest.

    2. I just had a look at the CMA’s website and saw that they uncovered another pharma collusion scandal only last month. Two suppliers of the antidepressant, nortriptyline, King Pharmaceuticals and Alissa Healthcare Research admitted illegally sharing information in order to keep the price up.

      I’m sure this is the tip of the iceberg. I hope whenever we get a Labour government, they will instigate really thorough investigations into all scams to rob the NHS, and make sure that individuals – those at the top – are brought to justice, at least the British ones.

    3. There are so many cons going on in relation to the NHS, it is a wonder that there is anything left of it at all.

      I am sure, but cannot yet prove this without help, that there is a deliberate policy of getting prescriptions wrong, so that pharmaceuticals may increase their profit margins at the expense of patients’ health.

      I care for a 75 year old, and it is shocking to me that for the last 5 years, no pharmacy (or her doctors’ surgery) seem to get her medication and doses right most of the time. Through her and her friends, I have become aware that this is not an isolated case, and that in Cheltenham alone, there a literally thousands upon thousands of wasted/unwanted/unneeded drugs being disposed of every week. Bear in mind that the pharmaceuticals pushing these drugs get paid whenever a drug is prescribed to a patient, but never have to pay back that money if they were supplied in error. To me this is open and ripe for exploitation, and I have seen enough for me to be suspicious.

      I would like to see the national average of wrongly prescribed, or correctly prescribed but wrongly delivered, and wasted drugs, as I fear there are literally billions in taxpayer money being deliberately wasted every year, to keep Big Pharma in its constant financial orgasm. I have tried to tackle this issue with Boots (and other pharmacies) in Cheltenham, but they refuse to engage with me on this subject, or even show any concern that there may be an abuse, or at the very least, a wastage in progress.

      So, if anyone reads this and thinks I may have a point, please also keep an eye on how much prescription drug waste is occurring in your areas, you may be shocked, like me, to find that there is a problem, and certain people and agencies seem suspiciously unphased by the potential.

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