The European Commission today launched an investigation into claims that Aspen Pharmacare has excessively raised the prices of five life-saving cancer drugs.
Brussels is looking into whether the South Africa based pharmaceutical firm has abused a dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules by hiking prices up to several hundred per cent, so-called "price gouging", and withdrawing the medicines from some markets.
"When we get sick, we may depend on specific drugs to save or prolong our lives. Companies should be rewarded for producing these pharmaceuticals to ensure that they keep making them into the future. But when the price of a drug suddenly goes up by several hundred per cent, this is something the Commission may look at," said EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
A spokesperson for Aspen said the company takes compliance with competition laws very seriously and will work constructively with the European Commission in its investigation.
The company's Johannesburg-listed shares closed down 3.6 per cent after the commission launched its first investigation of a drug company for high prices.