Belfast Telegraph

Concordia and Actavis UK accused of illegal agreements on hydrocortisone tablets

The competition watchdog has accused pharmaceutical firms Concordia and Actavis UK of signing "illegal agreements" that resulted in the cost of hydrocortisone tablets to the NHS remaining high.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) alleges that the pair breached competition law by entering into agreements where Actavis UK incentivised Concordia not to enter the market with its own competing version of hydrocortisone tablets.

The CMA also alleges that Actavis UK abused its dominant position by inducing Concordia to delay its independent entry into the market.

Under the agreements, Actavis UK supplied Concordia with a fixed supply of its own 10mg tablets for a "very low price", for Concordia to then resell to customers in the UK.

Actavis UK remained the sole supplier of the tablets in the UK during a three-year period to 2016, when the cost of the drug to the NHS rose from £49 to £88 per pack.

Andrew Groves, CMA senior responsible officer, said: "Anti-competitive agreements can cost the NHS, and ultimately the taxpayer, by stopping competition bringing down the cost of lifesaving drugs like hydrocortisone tablets.

"We allege these agreements were intended to keep Actavis UK as the sole supplier of a drug relied on by thousands of patients - and in a position which could allow it to dictate and prolong high prices."

The news comes following a separate investigation into Actavis UK in December, when the CMA accused it of "charging excessive and unfair prices" after the firm ramped up the price of a life-saving drug by more than 12,000%.