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Three manufacturers accused of 1,800% fludrocortisone price hike

CMA: Manufacturer Aspen admitted to its part in the illegal arrangements in August
CMA: Manufacturer Aspen admitted to its part in the illegal arrangements in August

Three manufacturers broke competition law by signing an illegal agreement that resulted in “significant price hikes” of fludrocortisone, a government watchdog has alleged.

In 2016, manufacturer Aspen entered into an illegal, anticompetitive arrangement with rival manufacturers Amilco and Tiofarma 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.

The agreement “protected Aspen’s UK monopoly” and “gave the firm the opportunity to increase prices by up to 1,800%”, the watchdog alleged yesterday (October 3).

The CMA provisionally found that Tiofarm and Amilco “colluded” with Aspen so it could maintain its position as the sole UK supplier of the prescription-only medicine, which is used mainly for the treatment of primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency, commonly known as Addison’s disease.

In exchange, “Tiofarma was made the sole manufacturer of fludrocortisone for direct sale in the UK and Amilco received a 30% share of the increased prices that Aspen was able to charge”, the watchdog alleged.

Aspen’s admission

Aspen admitted to its part in the illegal arrangements in August and agreed to pay the NHS £8 million to “address the CMA’s concerns”.

The CMA formally accepted Aspen’s payment yesterday and said the NHS should receive the compensation within 20 working days.

Aspen also agreed to pay a maximum fine of £2.1m should the CMA “ultimately conclude” that it has broken the law, the watchdog added.

Amilco and Tiofarma – who “have made no admission”, the CMA said – now have the opportunity to respond to the CMA’s allegations, but “no assumption should be made that Amilco and Tiofarma have infringed the law”, it stressed.

C+D has approached the three companies for comment.

Do you regularly dispense fludrocortisone in your pharmacy?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I wholeheartingly support any work that ensures medicine is kept at a reasonable cost for the NHS.

janet maynard, Community pharmacist

yes and several of the patients insist on a particular manufacturer

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