Man handing prescription to pharmacist

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has accused four UK-based pharmaceutical groups of breaking competition law by allegedly conspiring to increase the price of an important NHS drug.

In a statement of objections issued on May 23, the competition regulator alleged that Alliance Pharmaceuticals, Focus, Lexon and Medreich agreed not to compete with each other over the supply of prochlorperazine to the NHS between June 2013 and July 2018.

As a result, the cost of the drug rose by around 700 per cent, from £6.49 per pack of 50 tablets to £51.68 in those four years.

The annual cost for 3mg dissolvable prochlorperazine tablets increased from approximately £2.7 million to £7.5 million, despite the NHS dispensing fewer packs in that period.

The CMA has found that Lexon and Medreich were paid a share of the profits earned by Focus on the supply of the Alliance Pharmaceuticals product, and agreed not to compete for its supply in the UK.

The regulator said the four companies “entered into an overarching agreement that was implemented through 2 separate agreements – one between Alliance Pharmaceuticals and Focus, and one between Focus, Lexon and Medreich.

“Under these alleged agreements Alliance Pharmaceuticals supplied prochlorperazine exclusively to Focus.”

Prochlorperazine is an important drug used to treat nausea and dizziness.

(To be updated…)

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