Pfizer feels wrath of CMA for overcharging NHS | Nils Pratley

Pharma giant is appealing record £84m fine, but it can hardly be surprised by backlash to hiking price of drug by 2,600%

“We are part of the NHS team,” boasts Pfizer in a fuzzy claim on its UK website. But it’s not. On the evidence presented by the Competition and Markets Authority, which whacked the US company with a record £84m fine for breaking competition law, Pfizer is a company that thinks it OK to raise the price of an ancient drug by 2,600% by exploiting a loophole. The annual bill for the NHS jumped from £2m to £50m.

The price-hiking wheeze was artful. Pfizer sold the distribution rights to an anti-epilespsy drug called Epanutin to Hertfordshire-based Flynn Phama in September 2012. As a branded medicine, Epanutin was covered by price regulation. But Flynn immediately de-branded, or genericised, the medicine. Pfizer continued to manufacture and supply the drug but, critically, in generic form both parties could charge what they wished. The result was a jump in the price of a 100mg pack from £2.83 to £67.50, later reduced to £54.

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