Four pharma companies & # 39; collaborated to fleece the NHS of millions by 700% boosting a drug price in just four years & # 39;
- Pharmaceutical companies Alliance, Focus, Lexon and Medreich are involved in this
- The Competition and Markets Authority accused them of breaking the law
- The government can pay companies up to 10 percent of their annual turnover
- One company denied that it had benefited, while three did not immediately comment
Four pharmaceutical companies have been accused of breaking the law to skin the NHS out of millions of pounds.
Firma & # 39; s Alliance, Focus, Lexon and Medreich would have agreed only one of them to sell a certain anti-nausea drug so that it could raise the price.
The government and the competition and market authority (CMA) accused the companies of working together to increase the price of a drug by 700 percent in four years.
The drug, called prochlorperazine, is prescribed by the NHS to treat nausea and dizziness – more than 6.2 million of the soluble tablets in question were prescribed last year.
If they are found guilty, the companies may receive a £ 35 million fine from the British government.
Four companies have been accused of inflating the price of prochlorperazine soluble tablets, which are used to treat nausea and dizziness in people with ear infections and migraine
& # 39; The NHS should not be denied the opportunity to take advantage of a wider choice of suppliers or lower prices for important drugs, & # 39; said Ann Pope, a senior director at the CMA.
& # 39; Agreements where a company pays a rival not to enter the market can lead to higher prices and rob the NHS of huge savings that often result from competition between drug suppliers. & # 39;
The CMA claims that Focus Pharmaceuticals has paid Lexon and Medreich not to sell prochlorperazine 3mg soluble tablets.
As a result, Focus was the only supplier of the medication that was produced by Alliance, allowing it to rise as often as he wanted.
It raised the price from £ 6.49 for a package of 50 in 2013 to £ 51.68 for the same package in 2017, the CMA claims.
During the same period, the amount that the NHS spent on drugs increased from £ 2.7 million to £ 7.5, although it prescribed fewer of them – indicating that millions of pounds were wasted.
HOW DOES THE NHS GET MEDICINES?
The NHS spent around £ 8.8 billion on medicines in 2018.
For a drug funded for the NHS, it must first be approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
New drugs must then undergo a budget test to ensure that it is worth the money that a pharmaceutical company charges.
How many people will take the drug, the condition with which it is being treated and which alternative treatments are available are likely to be considered.
After NICE has decided who is eligible for a medication and has confirmed how much it will cost, healthcare can choose to buy it.
NHS England can negotiate directly with suppliers if a drug costs more than £ 20 million per year during the first three years of use.
In this way, the NHS may be able to secure medicines for less than their market rate.
The NHS has also ruled that medicines with a low value and those that are generally available in stores should not be offered on prescription.
It was revealed last year that laxatives, sunscreens, warts, cough mixtures and diarrhea therapies would no longer be funded by the NHS for most patients.
The CMA said that all four companies were parties to agreements that violate the law. If they were found guilty, the companies could be fined 10 percent of the turnover of a year.
It said an agreement for Alliance to deliver the product only to Focus, and another for Focus to pay Lexon and Medreich not to sell its own versions, were both unacceptable.
Prochlorperazine is used to treat nausea and dizziness caused by an infection of the inner ear, labyrinthitis, migraine or Meniere's syndrome.
It can also be used to treat psychological issues, including schizophrenia, anxiety, or mania.
The four companies now have the opportunity to defend their arguments before the CMA takes its final decision.
If they were found guilty of violating competition law, the companies would be fined 10 percent of the turnover of a year, which would amount to millions of pounds for all four.
Combined, the most recent accounts of the companies showed a total turnover of more than £ 350 million. Lexon, which lasted around £ 200 million last year, was able to make the biggest hit.
A statement from Alliance Pharma denied that it had benefited from the scheme and said that prochlorperazine was one of the smaller products in its portfolio and that it earned less than £ 200,000 in 2018.
The company said: & Alliance confirms that it has not been involved in the pricing or distribution of prochlorperazine since 2013, when it was exclusively licensed by the Company to Focus Pharmaceuticals Limited as is common on the market.
& # 39; The alliance has not had any control over, or has any influence over, and has not benefited from it
of, possible price increases.
& # 39; Before 2013, prochlorperazine was marketed directly by the company.
& # 39; The Alliance will review the Statement of Objections in detail and work closely with the CMA to resolve its alleged objections. Alliance strongly condemns anti-competitive practices. & # 39;
A Lexon spokesperson declined to comment and Focus and Medreich did not respond immediately to requests.
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