HDA UK Media And Political Bulletin – 7 December 2016

Pfizer fined record £84.2m for overcharging NHS

BBC News, Tom Espiner, 7 December 2016


BBC News reports that Pfizer has been fined £84.2m by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for overcharging the NHS for an anti-epilepsy drug. The UK competition watchdog also fined distributor Flynn Pharma £5.2m for the 2,600% price increase for the drug in 2012. The CMA explained that the drug was more expensive in the UK than in Europe. Pfizer said it rejects the findings and would be appealing against the decision.


The news was also reported by The GuardianMetroSky NewsReuters UKCity AM and MailOnline.


Parliamentary Coverage

House of Commons Questions, 6 December 2016, UN High-level Panel on Access to Medicines 


Dr Alasdair Mcdonnell: What steps the Government is taking on implementing the recommendations in the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines report published in September 2016; and what the timescale is for that implementation.


Department for International Development

James Wharton: DFID supports the aims of the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines, but we note that this panel of experts could not reach consensus. The World Health Organisation has analysed the barriers that limit access to medicines, and developed a Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property. It is, therefore, well-placed to consider, with partners, which of the Panel’s recommendations add value.


Full Coverage

Pfizer fined record £84.2m for overcharging NHS

BBC News, Tom Espiner, 7 December 2016


Drugs giant Pfizer has been fined a record £84.2m by the UK’s competition watchdog for overcharging the NHS for an anti-epilepsy drug.


The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also fined distributor Flynn Pharma £5.2m for the 2,600% price increase for the drug in 2012.


NHS spending on the capsules, used by 48,000 UK patients, rose from £2m a year in 2012 to about £50m in 2013.


Pfizer rejected the findings and said it would appeal against the decision.


UK prices for the drug were many times higher than in Europe, the CMA said.

‘Extraordinary price rise’


Philip Marsden of the CMA said: “The companies deliberately exploited the opportunity offered by de-branding to hike up the price for a drug which is relied upon by many thousands of patients.

“These extraordinary price rises have cost the NHS and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds.”

Before 2012 Pfizer manufactured and distributed the drug, which went by the brand name Epanutin.


Pfizer then sold the UK rights to distribute the phenytoin sodium capsules to Flynn Pharma, which de-branded the drug.


That allowed the firms to charge more for the drug because it was no longer subject to a pricing scheme agreed between the NHS and the drugs industry, the CMA said.




However, Pfizer said the drug was a loss making product, and that the deal with Flynn “represented an opportunity to secure ongoing supply of an important medicine for patients with epilepsy.”


“Pfizer believes the CMA’s findings are wrong in fact and law and will be appealing all aspects of the decision,” it said.


The drugs giant said the increased price of the drug was still 25% to 40% below the cost of an equivalent medicine by another supplier to the NHS.


But the CMA said by its calculations “all such losses would have been recovered within two months of the price rises.”


Pfizer has between 30 days and four months to reduce the price to a level acceptable to the CMA, and has two months to appeal against the CMA decision to the Competition Tribunal.

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