THE Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced a new probe into drug firms Pfizer and Flynn Pharma yesterday for allegedly charging “excessive and unfair prices” for epilepsy medication.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and distributor Flynn Pharma are being investigated to see whether the two companies abused their dominant position over the pricing of epilepsy drugs in breach of both British and EU competition law.
CMA senior director of antitrust enforcement Ann Pope said: “While businesses are generally free to set prices as they see fit, those that hold a dominant position have a special responsibility to ensure that their conduct does not impair genuine competition and that their prices are not excessive and unfair.
“The prices that the CMA is concerned about in this case are very high compared to those prices previously charged and have led to a big increase in the total NHS drug bill for what is a very important drug for tens of thousands of patients.”
The CMA said that while the NHS had been spending around £2.3 million a year on phenytoin sodium capsules before September 2012, this rose to more than £50m in 2013 and over £40m last year.
Phenytoin sodium capsules are used to prevent and control seizures and are taken by more than 50,000 patients in Britain.
Pfizer manufactures phenytoin sodium capsules and supplies them to Flynn Pharma, which distributes them to British wholesalers and pharmacies.
The CMA has issued a statement of objections, which concerns the prices Pfizer has charged to Flynn Pharma and the prices Flynn Pharma has charged to its customers, since September 2012.
Pfizer and Flynn Pharma said they are co-operating.