GRASPING pharmaceutical company Actavis UK was slammed yesterday for outrageously ramping up the price of a life-saving drug by more than 12,000 per cent.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that Actavis, formerly known as Auden Mckenzie, increased the price of 10mg hydrocortisone tablets — used to treat a range of conditions including allergic disorders, psoriasis and arthritis — from 70p in April 2008 to a shocking £88 per pack by March 2016.
The firm has also been condemned for increasing the price of 20mg hydrocortisone tablets by nearly 9,500 per cent compared with the previous branded price — from £1.07 to £102.74 per pack. The cynical price rises sent the amount the NHS spent on hydrocortisone tablets from approximately £522,000 to £70 million a year by 2015.
Hydrocortisone tablets are also used as the primary replacement therapy for people whose adrenal glands do not produce sufficient amounts of natural steroid hormones, for example, those with Addison’s disease.
The CMA alleged that Actavis broke competition law by charging “excessive and unfair prices.”
CMA senior responsible officer Andrew Groves said: “This is a life-saving drug relied on by thousands of patients, which the NHS has no choice but to continue purchasing.
“We allege that the company has taken advantage of this situation and the removal of the drug from price regulation, leaving the NHS and ultimately the taxpayer footing the bill for the substantial price rises.”
But he said the CMA’s findings were “provisional and no conclusion should be drawn at this stage that there has in fact been any breach of competition law.”
The move is part of a wider clampdown on pharmaceutical firms and their dealings with the NHS.