Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Pharma Fix-up

Four drugs companies colluded to restrict the supply of an anti-nausea tablet, driving up prices dramatically and costing the NHS millions of pounds, the competition watchdog has alleged. The price of a pack of anti-sickness drug Prochlorperazine soared eightfold from £6.49 in 2013 to £51.68 in 2017, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said. Over that period, NHS spending on the drug almost tripled to £7.5m despite the fact that it was prescribed less. The CMA alleges that Alliance, Focus, Lexon and Medreich agreed not to compete with each other over the supply of Prochlorperazine to drive up prices. The agreements between between the companies broke competition law, the CMA claims.
Nevertheless, the UK government has refused to sign up to a global resolution on greater transparency for drug pricing. 
The resolution urges governments and others buying health products to share information on actual prices paid, and pushes for greater transparency on patents, clinical trial results and other factors affecting pricing from laboratories to patients.  The aim is to gather evidence on whether openness reduces costs and to help countries negotiate more affordable prices. The UK, Germany and Hungary have disassociated themselves from the resolution, which had already been watered down.
Affordability of medicines is an issue affecting countries worldwide. The UK is involved in a standoff over the price of the cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi. South Africa and Thailand have seen protests over access to cancer drugs. Sixty-six NGOs working in sub-Saharan Africa wrote to the UK government last week calling on them to support the resolution.
Director of StopAids, Mike Podmore, said: “It is outrageous that the UK government attempted to derail WHA negotiations on this important transparency resolution. It is doubly shameful that they have disassociated themselves even after they had already secured damaging amendments that significantly weakened the resolution. The UK government must no longer block measures for greater transparency of the drug industry that will help ensure lower drug prices and make sure everyone can access the medicines they need.”

No comments: