Drug firm Concordia overcharged NHS with 6000% price rise

Alicia Farmer
November 22, 2017

A Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation found that the NHS spent more than £34m ($45m) on liothyronine tablets previous year, an increase from around £600,000 a decade earlier.

In the United Kingdom, the CMA asserted that the National Health Service paid £258 per pack of Concordia's liothyonine as of July 2017, up from about £4.46 per pack in 2016 at a time when the company's production costs didn't appreciably increase.

Drug company Concordia overcharged the NHS by millions for a key thyroid treatment, the Competition and Markets Authority has provisionally found.

"We allege that Concordia used its market dominance in the supply of liothyronine tablets to do exactly that".

He stressed that at this stage in the investigation, the CMA's findings are provisional and there has been "no definite decision" that there has been a breach of competition law.

Back in March, the CMA accused Concordia and Actavis UK of breaking UK competition law by artificially lifting the cost of hydrocortisone tablets to the NHS with a deal that delayed competition to the drug.

Concordia said that it "does not believe competition law has been infringed".

Concordia has denied the claims, saying the pricing of the tablets has been conducted openly and transparently with the UK's Department of Health for the last decade.

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'Over that time, significant investment has been made in this medicine to ensure its continued availability for patients in the United Kingdom, to the specifications required by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the United Kingdom'.

The CMA's statement of objections is not only being addressed to Concordia.

The regulator has been investigating how much the pharmaceutical company was charging for liothyronine tablets, used to treat patients with an underactive thyroid. It's not even a protected formulation either, as the patent has expired - but it just so happens that Concordia has manoeuvred itself into the position of dominant supplier and de-branded the product so it's now considered a generic drug.

It also fined a group of pharma companies a total of £45m in relation to antidepressant paroxetine - but both these decisions are under appeal. GSK took a 16 per cent shareholding in Aspen at the time.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, said: "The ABPI does not in any way support or condone any deliberate "price hikes" by pharmaceutical companies".

The CMA said it was one of a number of cases it was looking at within the pharmaceutical sector.

As a result, the CMA could impose a fine on the drug company amounting to 10% of its annual worldwide turnover. These can all be viewed on CMA's case pages.

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