UK fines pharma companies $360 million for overcharging NHS

The watchdog said the firms charged the NHS "excessively high prices" for almost a decade for the steroid hydrocortisone

Britain’s competition regulator said it has fined several drugmakers a total of more than 260 million pounds ($360 million) for overcharging the state-backed NHS healthcare network in relation to supply of hydrocortisone tablets.

The companies engaged in practices including buying potential rivals to keep them off the market, increase prices of the drugs as the sole provider and paying off competition, the Competition and Markets Authority said.

The regulator fined Actavis UK, Auden Mckenzie, Allergan Plc, Accord Healthcare, Intas Pharmaceuticals, Waymade Plc, Amdipharm, Advanz Pharma and some Cinven entities. Auden Mckenzie and Actavis UK together will pay 221.1 million pounds.

The watchdog said the firms charged the NHS “excessively high prices” for almost a decade for the steroid hydrocortisone, which is used to treat conditions where adrenal glands do not make sufficient hormones.

“These were egregious breaches of the law that artificially inflated the costs faced by the NHS, reducing the money available for patient care,” said CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli.

“Our fine serves as a warning to any other drug firm planning to exploit the NHS.”

The companies could not be immediately reached for comment.

($1 = 0.7219 pounds)

(Edits By EP News Bureau)

Accord HealthcareActavis UKAdvanz PharmaAllergan PlcAmdipharmAuden MckenzieCompetition and Markets Authoritycompetition regulatordrug overpricinghydrocortisone tabletsIntas PharmaceuticalsNHS healthcare networkWaymade Plc
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