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Drug firm Concordia forces 6000% price rise on NHS, competition authority says
Canadian pharmaceutical firm Concordia has been chastised by the UK competition authority for overcharging the NHS by 6,000% for an essential thyroid drug.
An investigation from the Competition & Markets Authority into the charges for liothyronine tablets found that the public health service spent £34m on the drug last year, which is the only suitable treatment for many suffering from a deficiency of thyroid hormone.
That figure was up from the £600,000 the NHS paid for the drug throughout 2006, around a 6000% increase while the production price has remained steady.
The price for a single pack of the tablets has risen from £4.46 in 2007 to £258.19 this year. "Pharmaceutical companies which abuse their position and overcharge for drugs are forcing the NHS - and the UK taxpayer - to pay over the odds for important medical treatments," CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.
"We allege that Concordia used its market dominance in the supply of liothyronine tablets to do exactly that. At this stage in the investigation, our findings are provisional and there has been no definitive decision that there has been a breach of competition law. We will carefully consider any representations from the companies before deciding whether the law has in fact been broken."
Several pharma firms including GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have been pursued by the CMA for overcharging customers and the NHS.
Concordia is also currently the subject of another investigation, with the CMA saying in March that the Canadian firm made a deal with Actavis to ratchet up the price of hydrocortisone tablets in the UK. Last year it accused Actavis of breaking competition law over its drug pricing.