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NPA chair steps aside while wholesaler price hike claims investigated

Nitin Sodha is stepping aside as chair of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) while a government watchdog investigates his company’s involvement in drug price hiking.

Mr Sodha will hand over his chairman duties while “allegations of collusion against a company in which he owns shares, Lexon UK, are investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)”, the NPA announced this afternoon (June 3).

NPA vice-chair Andrew Lane, owner of the AlChem Pharmacy Group and chair of Gloucestershire local pharmaceutical committee, will pick up the chairman duties “for the time being”, the NPA added.

NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette said: “The allegations against Lexon don’t relate to Nitin’s work at the NPA, yet he has made a decision to stand aside as chair in the best interests of the association and its members.”

Mr Sodha added: “I am stepping aside with immediate effect, so the NPA can remain focused on supporting its members and securing a sustainable future for independent pharmacies, rather than be distracted by continued questions about my position as chair.”

The allegations against Lexon

The government’s competition watchdog alleged last month that Lexon, along with manufacturers Alliance Pharmaceuticals, Focus Pharmaceuticals and Medreich, broke the law by agreeing not to compete in the supply of anti-nausea drug prochlorperazine.

Their alleged agreement not to compete for the supply of prescription-only prochlorperazine 3mg buccal tablets led to prices for the NHS rising 700% over four years, the CMA claimed.

The CMA’s findings are provisional, the watchdog added, and the companies have the opportunity to make representations before it reaches a final decision.

Mr Sodha stressed to C+D last year that he currently has limited involvement with the wholesaler, and attends “maybe four” meetings a year.

What do you make of Mr Sodha's decision to step down?

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