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Pfizer, Flynn Pharma fined record £84.2m by UK regulator
[LONDON] Pfizer Inc and Flynn Pharma Ltd received record fines for abusing their dominant position by charging unfair prices for phenytoin sodium, an anti-epilepsy drug.
The Competition and Markets Authority fined Pfizer £84.2 million (S$140.55 million) and Flynn Pharma 5.2 million pounds after they increased prices by as much as 2,600 per cent overnight following a Sept 2012 rebrand, the regulator said in an e-mailed statement. The CMA has ordered the companies to reduce their prices.
"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," Philip Marsden, chairman of the Case Decision Group for the CMA's investigation.
"These extraordinary price rises have cost the NHS and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds.''
Britain's National Health Service spent about £50 million on the anti-epilepsy capsules in 2013 and £40 million in 2014, the CMA said in its Aug 2015 complaint.
Pfizer said that it "refutes" the finding of the CMA.
"Phenytoin capsules were a loss making product for Pfizer and the Flynn transaction represented an opportunity to secure ongoing supply of an important medicine for patients with epilepsy, while maintaining continuity of manufacture," the company said in a statement.
"When Flynn launched its product, the company set a price that was between 25 and 40 per cent less than the price of the equivalent medicine from another supplier to the NHS which had long been regulated, and appeared to be acceptable to, the Department of Health."
Officials at Flynn weren't immediately available to comment.