Pfizer faces penalty for price gouging

2 minute read

A UK regulator is set to fine Pfizer millions for scheming to outrageously hike the price of an epilepsy drug

A UK regulator is set to fine pharmaceutical giant Pfizer millions for scheming with a British company to raise the price of an epilepsy drug, costing the NHS an additional £50 million over one year. 

Pfizer and its UK distributor, Flynn Pharma, have been under investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority since May 2013 for charging “excessive and unfair” prices.

The two companies plotted to exploit a loophole in UK law, which allows price increases for generic drugs sold without a brand name.  

Under the arrangement, Pfizer continued to manufacture phenytoin sodium capsules but sold them to Flynn Pharma at an inflated price. 

From September 2012, Flynn Pharma dropped the brand name Epanutin and distributed the product within the UK. 

A 28-pack of 300mg capsules used to cost the consumer £2.83. Under the new deal, the price rose to £67, an increase of more than 2000%.

“The prices … are very high compared to those prices previously charged and have led to a big increase in the total NHS drug bill for what is a very important drug for tens of thousands of patients,” said Ann Pope, senior director of antitrust enforcement at the authority. 

A Pfizer spokeswoman said the price hike was necessary to ensure an ongoing supply of the drug, which was previously being sold at a loss. 

She said the company intended to appeal all aspects of any findings by the authority.

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