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UK authority accuses Actavis UK and Concordia of illegal agreement Posted 07/04/2017

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) alleged that pharmaceutical companies, Actavis UK and Concordia, entered into illegal agreements that allowed them to increase and maintain high prices of hydrocortisone tablets. 

In their press release, the CMA stated that Actavis UK, recently acquired by Intas Pharmaceuticals [1] and Concordia, entered into agreements in which Actavis UK offered incentives to Concordia, persuading them not to enter the market with its own version of hydrocortisone tablets. This is reported to have taken place between January 2013 and June 2016.

These allegations follow previous claims made by the CMA that were reported in December 2016. Here, they stated that the cost of 10 mg hydrocortisone tablets increased by 12,000%, from GBP 0.70 to GBP 88.00 a tablet between April 2008 and March 2016. Over the same period, the 20 mg packs went from GBP 1.07 to GBP 102.74 per pack, a 9,500% rise. Prior to April 2008, the National Health Service (NHS) spent about GBP 522,000 a year on hydrocortisone tablets. As a result of price rise, by 2015, the NHS was paying GBP 70 million for the tablets [2].

In their statement of objections released on 3 March 2017, the CMA announced that they provisionally found that both companies broke competition law by coming to anti-competitive agreements. Here, Actavis UK is also accused of abusing its dominant position in the market to persuade rival company Concordia to delay its independent entry of hydrocortisone tablets to the market. It is reported that Actavis UK also supplied Concordia with low price 10 mg tablets that they could then sell on to customers, including the NHS, in the UK. This meant that Actavis UK maintained a monopoly that allowed prices to soar and denied the NHS access to cheaper options, thus causing a burden on the taxpayer and patients. It is reported that, Andrew Groves, CMA Senior Responsible Officer said, ‘We allege these agreements were intended to keep Actavis UK as the sole supplier of a drug relied on by thousands of patients – and in a position which could allow it to dictate and prolong high prices’.

Related article
Teva sells Actavis UK and Ireland generics business to Intas

References
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Intas enters top 20 generics firms through Actavis purchase [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2017 Apr 7]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Pharma-News/Intas-enters-top-20-generics-firms-through-Actavis-purchase
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative.UK competition authority accuses Actavis of overcharging NHS [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2017 Apr 7]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Generics/General/UK-competition-authority-accuses-Actavis-of-overcharging-NHS

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