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Drug manufacturer admits 1,800% fludrocortisone price hike deal

Two of the three manufacturers involved in the deal have now admitted to entering into the anti-competitive agreement
Two of the three manufacturers involved in the deal have now admitted to entering into the anti-competitive agreement

Drug manufacturer Tiofarma has admitted to illegally taking part in an anti-competitive agreement that resulted in “significant hikes” in the price of fludrocortisone.

In October 2019 the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) published provisional findings that manufacturers Aspen Tiofarma and Amilco signed the anti-competitive deal in 2016.

The agreement, regarding the supply of fludrocortisone acetate 0.1mg tablets, entailed Tiofarma and Amilco stepping aside to leave Aspen as the sole UK supplier of fludrocortisone.

The result, the CMA concluded, “contributed to the price of fludrocortisone acetate tablets supplied to the NHS increasing by up to 1,800%”.

The understanding, which the CMA in October provisionally found to have broken the law, saw Tiofarma in return become the only manufacturer of the drug for direct sale in the UK.

Meanwhile Amilco was given 30% of what Aspen made from the sale of the drug, benefitting from the higher price Aspen was able to charge as a result of its position as the sole UK supplier.

Tiofarma, which is based in Holland, has now acknowledged it signed the deal and has agreed to pay a maximum fine of £186,000 if the CMA formally finds the law has been broken.

Aspen admitted its role before the CMA published its official findings last year and agreed to pay a £2.1m fine in the event of a formal decision that the law was broken.

The South Africa-based company also consented in August to a payment of £8m to the NHS to “address the CMA’s wider concerns about its sale of fludrocortisone”.

Tiofarma's admission means that two of the three companies alleged to have participated in the illegal scheme have now admitted their role. The third, UK-based Amilco, has made no admission of liability. The CMA investigation is ongoing.

C+D has approached Tiofarma for comment.

Do you regularly dispense fludrocortisone in your pharmacy?

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

Tip of the iceberg?

Greatly Pedantic and Highly Clueless, Senior Management

Like the banks, these "fines" are just the price of doing business. Until some of these chancers do the perp walk to the big house it will just keep going on. 

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Reminds me of HSBC getting away with money laundering for the Mexican cartel by being fined only $1bn yet currently going as strong as ever

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Prices literally plucked out of thin air and passed on to the NHS. Wouldn't need Columbo to investigate the individuals signing off these 'deals' and looking at their career path before joining the NHS and after they leave. 

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

probably hedge funders or bankers 

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