£70 million in fines for pharma firms that overcharged NHS
The CMA has found that Pfizer and Flynn charged unfairly high prices for phenytoin sodium capsules for over four years, which were ultimately paid for by the NHS.
The firms de-branded the epilepsy drug, previously known as Epanutin, meaning that it was no longer subject to price regulation, and the firms could set prices at their discretion. Pfizer and Flynn were the dominant suppliers of the drug in the UK at the time, and the NHS had no choice but to pay the inflated final price for this important medicine, according to a press release from the Gov website.
Over the ensuing four years, Pfizer charged prices between 780% and 1,600% higher than previously.
Pfizer then supplied the drug to Flynn, which then sold the capsules on to wholesalers and pharmacies, at a price between 2,300% and 2,600% higher than the prices previously charged by Pfizer.
This led to NHS annual costs for phenytoin capsules increasing from £2 million in 2012, to approximately £50 million the following year.
The CMA has now determined that the companies’ behaviour was an abuse of their dominant positions, and that they charged unfair prices for phenytoin capsules.
Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA, said: “Phenytoin is an essential drug relied on daily by thousands of people throughout the UK to prevent life-threatening epileptic seizures. These firms illegally exploited their dominant positions to charge the NHS excessive prices and make more money for themselves – meaning patients and taxpayers lost out.