The European Commission (EC) has launched a formal investigation into alleged price hiking by Aspen Pharmacare, according to reports.
Aspen is reportedly facing a fine of £220m for “hiking prices”, after the company raised the costs of five cancer drugs.
It is the first time that the EC has investigated a drug company for alleged excessive pricing and it follows an investigation by The Times which showed that “Aspen had aggressively pursued price rises across Europe after buying the rights to the five cancer drugs from the British company Glaxosmithkline (GSK)”.
According to a report in The Financial Times, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said: “In this case we will be assessing whether Aspen is breaking EU competition rules by charging excessive prices for a number of medicines.”
Dr Richard Torbett, Executive Director, ABPI, responded by commenting in a statement that applying price hikes to generic medicines has had a damaging impact on trust: “The ABPI has repeatedly said that we do not in any way support or condone it. Thankfully, these examples are rare, and we are fully supportive of recent legislation that will allow the UK Government to tackle excessive profiteering and close a loophole that has allowed large price hikes to a small number of NHS medicines.”
Aspen, which is currently also appealing against a €5m fine imposed by Italian competition authorities last year for raising prices on other drugs, declined to comment on the new investigation.