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UK: Watchdog seeks to reinstate fine against Pfizer and Flynn

 |  November 28, 2019

The UK’s competition regulator is trying to reinstate a record £90 million (US$116.2 million) fine against drug companies Pfizer and Flynn for raising the price of an anti-epilepsy drug by up to 2,600% per cent, after its decision was overturned last year, reported The Financial Times. 

The Competition and Markets Authority is arguing that the Competition Appeals Tribunal “erred in law” when it upheld Pfizer’s appeal against the fine

The case pits the regulator against big pharma and could set a precedent determining the extent to which UK and European competition regulators can limit drug pricing. It hinges on the price of phenytoin sodium pills, used by roughly 48,000 epilepsy patients in the UK to control seizures. 

Pfizer passed the distribution of the drug, previously branded Epanutin, to Flynn Pharma in 2012, which sold it as a generic, unbranded drug. Generic drugs are not subject to the same price controls as branded medicines, and the price of 100mg packs, for example, rose from £2.83 to £67.50 overnight (US$3.65 to US$87.12). 

NHS spending on phenytoin sodium capsules jumped from £2 million (US$2.58 million) a year in 2012 to roughly £50 million (US$64.5 million) the following year. The regulator stated both companies each held a dominant position in their respective markets for the manufacture and supply of the drug, and that they had abused that position by charging excessive and unfair prices. It fined Pfizer £84.2 million (US$108.7 million) and Flynn £5.2 million (US$6.1 million).

Full Content: Financial Times

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