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Three manufacturers fined £2.3m for fludrocortisone price hike deal

Manufacturers Aspen, Tiofarma and Amilco have been fined a total of £2.3 million by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for colluding to keep a drug price high.

Aspen has been fined £2,101,954 and Tiofarma £186,442 for breaking competition law to keep the price of fludrocortisone acetate 0.1 mg tabletsartificially inflated.

The prescription-only medicine is used mainly for the treatment of primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency, commonly known as Addison’s disease.

Amilco will not be fined, as the company had zero annual turnover last year. According to the law, the CMA is only able to fine a company up to 10% of its turnover from the past business year, C+D understands.

The CMA formally concluded its investigation into the three companies today (July 9), finding that Tiofarma and Amilco colluded with Aspen so the latter could maintain its position as the sole UK supplier of the prescription-only medicine.

All three companies have admitted to taking part in the anti-competitive deal, the CMA said.

In January, Tiofarma admitted its involvement in the agreement, with Aspen admitting its part in the illegal arrangement in August last year At the time, Aspen also committed to paying a maximum fine of £2.1m in the event of a formal decision that the law had been broken.

The CMA found that Amilco and Tiofarma “agreed to stay out of the fludrocortisone market so that Aspen could maintain its position as the sole supplier in the UK”.

In return, Amilco “received a 30% share of the increased prices that Aspen was able to charge”, while Holland-based Tiofarma was “given the right to be the sole manufacturer of the drug for direct sale in the UK”, the CMA said.

The agreement caused the price of fludrocortisone paid by the NHS to increase by “up to 1,800%”.

As well as the fine, Aspen “approached the CMA last year” and “agreed to pay the NHS £8m to help resolve the CMA’s competition concerns in relation to fludrocortisone”.

This payment has now been made, according to the CMA. In an official statement today, Aspen said the CMA’s decision “brings this matter to a close”. The company declined to comment further when approached by C+D.

C+D has approached Tiofarma and Amilco for comment.

Do you regularly dispense fludrocortisone in your pharmacy?

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