In October 2019 the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) published provisional findings that manufacturers Aspen Tiofarma and Amilco signed the anti-competitive deal in 2016.
The agreement, regarding the supply of fludrocortisone acetate 0.1mg tablets, entailed Tiofarma and Amilco stepping aside to leave Aspen as the sole UK supplier of fludrocortisone.
The result, the CMA concluded, “contributed to the price of fludrocortisone acetate tablets supplied to the NHS increasing by up to 1,800%”.
The understanding, which the CMA in October provisionally found to have broken the law, saw Tiofarma in return become the only manufacturer of the drug for direct sale in the UK.
Meanwhile Amilco was given 30% of what Aspen made from the sale of the drug, benefitting from the higher price Aspen was able to charge as a result of its position as the sole UK supplier.
Tiofarma, which is based in Holland, has now acknowledged it signed the deal and has agreed to pay a maximum fine of £186,000 if the CMA formally finds the law has been broken.
Aspen admitted its role before the CMA published its official findings last year and agreed to pay a £2.1m fine in the event of a formal decision that the law was broken.
The South Africa-based company also consented in August to a payment of £8m to the NHS to “address the CMA’s wider concerns about its sale of fludrocortisone”.
Tiofarma's admission means that two of the three companies alleged to have participated in the illegal scheme have now admitted their role. The third, UK-based Amilco, has made no admission of liability. The CMA investigation is ongoing.
C+D has approached Tiofarma for comment.