In 2016, Aspen entered into an illegal, anticompetitive arrangement with two rival unnamed manufacturers regarding the supply of fludrocortisone acetate 0.1mg tablets, and paid them to “stay out of the market”, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) alleged.
“These arrangements left Aspen as the sole supplier of fludrocortisone, with the ability to set prices without facing competition,” the watchdog said today (August 14).
Aspen has now admitted to its part in the illegal arrangement and agreed to pay the NHS £8m “to address the CMA’s concerns that as a result of Aspen’s behavior, the NHS paid a higher price for fludrocortisone”.
The money will be allocated among the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) in England and the equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the CMA said.
Aspen will also commit to ensuring that there will be at least two suppliers of the prescription-only medicine, which is used mainly for the treatment of primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency, commonly known as Addison’s disease, it added.
The CMA’s investigation is still ongoing, but should it decide that the law has been broken, Aspen will also pay a maximum fine of £2.1m.
The other two manufacturers being investigated will be named should the CMA decide to issue a statement of objections, the watchdog explained.
CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “This is the first time a CMA investigation will secure a payment for the NHS.
“We welcome Aspen approaching us to find a new way of addressing the CMA’s concerns. We believe this resolution will benefit the NHS, patients and taxpayers. Meanwhile we continue to investigate the two other companies we suspect illegally participated in this arrangement.”