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Distributor: Phenytoin case could lead to generics shortages

Flynn Pharma: CMA has made a "serious error" in its decision-making

The record fine for two pharmaceutical companies will have “unintended consequences” for the UK's generic drugs market, the distributor involved in the investigation has warned.

Flynn Pharma was fined £5.2 million for its part in charging “excessive and unfair” prices for epilepsy drug phenytoin sodium, the government’s competition watchdog announced yesterday (December 7).

The distributor warned that if left unchallenged, the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) decision would “stunt investment in generics, eventually leading to a reduction in supply and less choice for doctors and patients”.

Flynn vowed to appeal the decision in court, arguing  it is “based on a wholly flawed understanding of the UK pharmaceutical market”, it said in a statement yesterday.

The CMA has made “a serious error” in its decision, the distributor added, one that could impact future investment in, and the availability of, generics in the UK.

Chief executive David Fakes said it “beggars belief” that the CMA chose to punish Flynn, along with Pfizer, for selling phenytoin capsules – which he claimed are sold at a “significant discount” to the equivalent, phenytoin tablets.

“Phenytoin tablets are used for an identical purpose and for the last nine years have been sold at a price negotiated and accepted by the Department of Health," he stressed.

“It makes little sense that the CMA has chosen to penalise the cheaper therapy supplier.”

He added that it is “a matter of common interest” for the decision to be overturned and Flynn is consulting its legal team to prepare an appeal.

What do you make of the record fines imposed by the CMA?

Ian Kemp, Community pharmacist

So what happens if Flynn discontinue phenytoin caps and they are suddenly a special ?   Just asking!

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Medium term, that's a possibility but I can't believe that there isn't a pile of Epanutin (sorry, generic phenytoin now...) in a warehouse somewhere to meet immediate demand.

Possible solution?  Where government thinks there is an issue with the open market not working properly fors out of patent medicines, could they not discount the cost of a product licence (MHRA after all is a government body) to try and stimulate some competition?

Paul Brett, Community pharmacist

Isn't it the turn of Mercury/Amco/Concordia next. I'm sure their pillaging of the NHS far outstrips Flynn's

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Prednisolone souble/suppositories, fusidic acid eye drops, dipipanone/cyclizine, trifluoperazine, nitrofurantoin suspension, liothyronine, flumetasone/clioquinol ear drops, gentamicin/hydrocortisone ear drops, trazodone, trimipramine, dicycloverine, alimemazine...

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

I'm thinking now of what I was often told as a boy by my mother...

"Ben!  If the manufacturer of phenytoin tablets jumped off a cliff, does that mean you have to do it?!"

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

Methinks that Pfizer  may be the supplier of raw material for Phenytoin--can anybody confirm?

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

So... they've been found out and are threatening to take their ball home, yes?

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

Is he Shkreli in disguise?


Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

No sympathy for Flynn. They gambled and lost.

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