Drug company Advanz, as well as two private equity firms, have been hit with fines of over £100m by the UK’s competition watchdog for hiking vital drug prices.
The investigation found that Advanz pushed up prices for thyroid tablet packs, known as liothyronine tablets, more than tenfold.
A pack would have cost just £20 in 2009, cost some £248 in 2017 – making the crucial drug unaffordable by the NHS.
It “exploited a loophole enabling it to reap much higher profits”, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) explained.
The watchdog’s latest fine is intended to send “a clear message” to the pharmaceutical sector that breaking the law and hiking prices unnecessarily would not be tolerated.
Private equity firms HgCapital and Cinven formerly, who have also been subject to fines, owned a business that now forms part of Advanz.
The Advanz case follows a £260m fine from the CMA for drug companies that inflated “life-saving” hydrocortisone tablets – which had its price hiked over 10,000 per cent.
“They achieved this because liothyronine tablets were among a number of drugs that, although genericised, faced limited or no competition and therefore could sustain repeated price increases,” the CMA said in a statement.
Advanz itself was slapped with a £40.9m fine. While HgCapital and Cinven were fined £8.6m and £51.9m respectively.