CMA opens six new investigations into anticompetitive drug pricing

Exclusive: Six new cases have been opened into anticompetitive practices in the pharmaceutical sector amid ongoing concerns over generic drug prices.

Generic medicines

The Pharmaceutical Journal has learned that the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) opened six new investigations in October 2017, at the height of the crisis in the generics market that hit community pharmacy hard.

The CMA refused to confirm whether any of the latest investigations were linked to generic manufacturers or wholesalers, but the news comes after Warwick Smith, director general of the British Association of Generic Manufacturers, told MPs on 4 July 2018 that some products were being investigated by competition authorities.

Source: Courtesy of British Generic Manufacturers Association

In evidence to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry into generic price rises in primary care, Warwick Smith told MPs there may or may not be reasons for price increases, but the investigations are underway

In evidence to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee’s ongoing inquiry into generic price rises in primary care, Smith told MPs: “There have been some products where the competition authorities are investigating and, forgive me, while those investigations are under way I cannot really comment on those, but there can be reasons for significant price increases.

“There might not be [reasons for price increases] — I do not know. We need to see the outcome of those investigations.”

All six cases focus broadly on potential breaches of the Competition Act 1998, but at this stage there are no details of which companies or organisations are being investigated and whether the products involved are generics.

The cases are the latest to be investigated by the CMA. It currently has ten cases open that involve the pharmaceutical sector.

In a statement on 12 July 2018, the CMA said: “We currently have ten investigations ongoing into the pharmaceutical sector, a number of which are examining the prices charged for generic drugs.

“The weight of work we are undertaking in this area demonstrates the priority we are giving to tackling high prices for essential drugs in order to protect the NHS and taxpayers from being exploited.”

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, July 2018;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205176