Four pharmaceutical companies accused of illegal anti-competitive conduct

The CMA has revealed findings that provisionally show that four pharmaceutical companies have broken the law.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued a Statement Of Objections provisionally finding that competing companies, King and Auden McKenzie, have been sharing out the supply of nortriptyline to a large pharmaceutical wholesaler and have thus been accused of breaking competition law.

The CMA has provisionally found that, in 2014, the two companies agreed Auden Mckenzie would supply only 10mg nortriptyline tablets and King would supply only 25mg nortriptyline tablets, as well as agreeing to fix the quantities and the prices of supply. 

King, Alissa, and Lexon have also been accused of exchanging commercially sensitive information, such as prices, volumes, and entry plans, to maintain high prices of nortriptyline.

The antidepressant, nortriptyline, is prescribed by the National Health Service (NHS) to thousands of patients each month. In 2015, NHS spending on the drug reached a high of £38 million (US$48 million).

“If pharmaceutical companies get together to restrict competition for the supply of a drug, this can lead to the NHS – and ultimately the United Kingdom taxpayer – paying over the odds for what are often essential medical treatments,” said Geoff Steadman, director of antitrust at the CMA, in the release. “We expect drug suppliers to abide by competition law so that the NHS is not denied the opportunity of benefitting from lower prices for medicines.”

This is the CMA’s provisional finding, which means the companies now have the chance to make representations to the CMA before it reaches a final decision.

For more information see the CMA’s case page.