Various debates in the past have discussed the unfair drug prices for life-saving treatments. Now, the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority, or CMS, has accused Pfizer and Flynn of charging fairly excessive amount of money from the customers for their anti-epilepsy drug.
In a press release, the CMA raised a list of objections against the popular pharmaceutical firm, accusing them of breaching the UK and EU competition law. In a country where almost more than 50,000 people use the drug that constitute phenytoin sodium capsules, CMA believes that the companies are abusing their dominant position in the market.
The production of the anti-epilepsy drug takes place at Pfizer, which then sends it across to Flynn Pharma. The latter distributes it to the wholesalers and pharmacies across the UK. Pointing out the entire manufacturing and distribution framework, the CMA says that Pfizer has been charging unfair amount from Flynn Pharma since September 2012. Similarly, Flynn Pharma have had an upper hand at setting the excessive cost of the drug to be charged to its customers.
“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,” said the Senior Director of Antitrust Enforcement at the CMS Ann Pope.
“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 same anti-epilepsy drug was once manufactured and sold by Pfizer directly under the name Epanutin® before it sold its UK distribution rights to Flynn Pharma. Pfizer continued to manufacture the drug, however, started selling it to Flynn at a much higher cost. The latter genericized the drug and started to sell it to distributors in September 2012 at a greater cost. The CMA states that the drug prices, thus set were 25 to 27 times higher than what was set by Pfizer when it had the UK distribution rights.
The press statement further says that the CMA's conclusions are still provisional and that no conclusions can be drawn immediately. As a next step, the regulatory body plans to consider the representations from the drug companies before deciding the extremity of the law infringement.