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Strep A: Watchdog investigating ‘excessive’ antibiotics prices

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is “working to establish” whether companies charged “excessive prices” or colluded over antibiotics used to treat strep A in the UK.

The consumer watchdog yesterday (December 14) announced that it was searching for information, following reports of antibiotic price hikes.

It said: “People have got real concerns about the price of antibiotics used to treat strep A and we want companies to be clear about their obligations under the law.

“There should be no doubt that it is illegal for a dominant company to charge excessive prices or for any companies to collude to drive up prices.”

It added: “We are working to establish the facts of what is currently happening in the market and welcome new information as part of our work. We stand ready to take action if there is evidence of anti-competitive behaviour that breaks the law.”

The CMA stressed to C+D that this is not a formal investigation and that it can only issue fines following a formal process.


Read more: Strep A: Pharmacies snowed under with calls from parents ‘in a frenzy’

It remains unclear which companies are being investigated and what this will look like in terms of timings, scope, and possible repercussions.

The investigation follows pharmacists' reports of prices for strep A medication increasing “tenfold” overnight. 

Earlier this week, wholesalers put soaring antibiotic prices at manufacturers' doors and hit back at accusations that they are profiteering from the situation, following pharmacists' complaints that they have been left out of pocket. 

Pharmacists began raising concerns over difficulties sourcing antibiotics last week.


After claiming there is “no supplier shortage”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) yesterday restricted wholesalers from exporting or hoarding some antibiotics used to treat strep A.

The Competition Act 1998 prohibits businesses in the UK from co-operating or colluding to fix prices and the CMA has powers to issue fines or secure legally binding promises that a company will change its behaviour if it finds evidence competition law has been broken.


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