The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has had a very busy week making history (see my earlier post on the disqualification of directors for competition law breaches). This time, it has issued its largest ever fine for a massive increase in prices for an anti-epilepsy drug.
While most companies are not likely to see fines of this size, this case is a very good example of the range of sanctions available to the CMA, which include fines and a requirement that the price should be dropped in future. For other types of competition law breaches they can also impose director disqualification, as we saw earlier this week, or a requirement to sell or hive off parts of a business.
These type of more practical sanctions are very different in concept to the usual range of sanctions for regulatory non-compliance and show the importance of this issue and the increasing confidence of the CMA in its role as a regulator.
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer has been fined a record £84.2m by the UK’s competition regulator after the price charged to the NHS for an anti-epilepsy drug was increased by up to 2,600%. The Competition and Markets Authority, issuing its biggest fine, said the “extraordinary price rises have cost the NHS and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds”. The CMA also fined the drugs distributor Flynn Pharma £5.2m for charging excessive and unfair prices in the UK for phenytoin sodium capsules, which are used by an estimated 48,000 epilepsy patients in the UK to prevent and control seizures. The watchdog has ordered both companies to drop their prices.